Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Minerva script history with maiden I-League title

Minerva Punjab FC Minerva Punjab FC became the first north Indian club to win the I-League
Sherri Watson | 09 March, 2018, 14:34

March 08 (ANI): All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Wednesday, in a statement, confirmed that they are looking into the matter of improper approach to the members of Minerva Football Club (FC) by a rival team, before the final day of the I-League. "We have received a letter from Minerva Punjab Football Club highlighting approach to their players and officials from other participating teams in the Hero I-League".

Churchill Brothers, needing a win to avoid relegation, also threw more bodies into attack and started pumping balls into the Minerva box.

► 5 - Despite losing fi ve games in the season, Minerva held on in the end to win the 2018 I-League title.

Chencho nearly scored the opener in eighth minute when a low Khosla cross wasn't dealt with properly by Osagie Monday, giving the Bhutanese ace a chance, but he couldn't make full use of it. The moment finally came in 16th minute when William converted from point-blank range after a rebound from Girik's shot which fell right into his feet. However, a spirited Gokulam restored parity through Henry Kisekka in added on time in the first half.

In the 49th minute, Akash Sangwan's pinpoint corner kick met Chencho header but his effort went just wide off the target.

The first half ended with the home side leading 1-0.

India had their first national champions from Punjab since JCT's star-studded team won the first National Football League 21 years ago. Ceesay took a long shot in 54th minute but Kiran was there to save comfortably.

In another show of combination play, Chencho was brilliantly set up by William in 73rd minute in the box but he chose to cut inside and in doing so lost the ball possession.

Minerva centre back Eric Dano got a chance in the 80th minute when he took a shot after a deflected corner kick but his shot was nowhere near target.

Bali Gangandeep got a chance to get his name on the scoresheet but his weak effort didn't trouble the keeper.

Bagan, who started the final matchday tied at the third spot with East Bengal on 30 points, made a dominant start to their match against Gokulam FC in Kozhikode.

Minerva scripted a fairytale after going into today's game knowing that they needed to win at any cost.

East Bengal will count on home advantage against Neroca FC in their last-gasp bid to win the elusive trophy.

"When I returned to join East Bengal, people questioned my ability".

It was the first instance in the history of the league of four teams remaining in contention till the final day.

East Bengal have now slipped to fourth (30 points) behind leaders Minerva Punjab FC (32), Neroca FC (31) and Mohun Bagan (30) - all of them in title hunt, and play their respective matches at the 3pm on Thursday. Ryuji Sueoka did it for Salgaocar in 2010-11.