Ludhiana: On an winning spree of four games, Minerva Punjab will aim to continue it’s unbeaten run in the I-League when they face All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) developmental team Indian Arrows at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Monday. Playing their second season in the country’s top most division, the Warriors look to have found their mojo after finishing ninth in their debut campaign.
“We want to keep our winning streak to stretch as much as possible. We will not change our team or our team tactics. We won’t take any side lightly no matter how our opponent is,” said Minerva head coach Khogen Singh at the pre-match conference.
Led by William Opoku, who leads the scoring charts with three goals to his name, Minerva are yet to lose a single game this season and after that last minute equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw against Mohun Bagan, the ‘Warriors’ have put aside opposition with ease, winning the next three matches.
Star signing Chencho Gyeltshen has always been threatening on the flank and hopes to do the same when they face the Arrows, a side they had beaten 2-0, when the two met in Goa early into the season. “We want 3 points. That’s it. We will try our best to achieve that,” said the Bhutanese Ronaldo, fondly called CG7 by his countrymen.
Indian Arrows meanwhile return to the turf after a 10 day rest and coach Luis Norton de Matos expects his boys to put up a good fight against the league toppers. It will indeed be a tough battle for the young U-17 and U-19 boys who faced humiliation the last time both sides met, thanks to a wonderful brace by William Opoku Asiedu. Matos however emphasised development and experience for the young lads more important than a win.
“We are not here to win or lose. We are here for the experience of the competitive matches. My team is very young. They are 18-year-old players and it’s essential that they play bigger stronger opponents for their development, said Matos.
“Yes, it’s a long-term project. I don’t want to change my style of play for a different opponent every game. I want my players to play the same kind of football so that when these players are ready in 2 years for the senior side they can counter European teams easily. In order to achieve this the players need more competition,” added the Portugese gaffer ahead of the match.
He praised Minerva for their level of consistency but at the same time warned that he has done his homework of knowing his opposition.
“We have worked on Minerva’s strength especially their throw-in and other set pieces. Minerva are the leaders of I- League and are a very strong side.”