Indian Football: Who is Minerva Punjab's player of the season?

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Goal takes a look at the three players who impressed in Minerva Punjab's inaugural season in the country's top-flight league...

Minerva Punjab's inaugural season in the I-League has not really been the rosiest of stories with the Warriors beset with woes including allegations of nonpayment of salaries and poor ground conditions at the Guru Nanak stadium in Ludhiana. 

The Surinder Singh coached side failed to qualify for the Federation Cup after finishing outside the top-eight positions but will take solace in the fact that their performances did not merit the wooden spoon, which went Mumbai FC's way. 

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They had a good mix of youngsters like Baoringdao Bodo, Anirudh Thapa and Arnab Das Sharma who all had their moments during the course of the season. But let's take a look the the three players who defined their I-League performances. 


3. DAVID NGAIHTE


David Ngaihte Rangdajied United FC I-League

The 27-year-old former Rangdajied United winger was not an automatic pick in the Minerva Punjab first XI at the start of the season but soon established himself, making a total of 14 appearances over the course of the season.

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He was deployed all over the front three and the Manipuri worked tirelessly, helping himself to a goal as well. 

But more than statistical returns, Ngaihte proved to be a workhorse and ever-ready outlet for Minerva Punjab who were more often than were consigned to play on the counter against stronger opposition. 


2. KAREEM OMOLAJA NURAIN


Kareem Nurain Mumbai FC Minerva Punjab FC I-League 2017

It seems ironic that a centre-back is one of the best players for a side that shipped 33 goals in 18 games, the highest among all the I-league teams. But Kareem Omolaja was not just a centre-back for the Warriors who also made use of him occasionally as a striker. 

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He assimilated 14 appearances for Minerva, showcasing some clean tackling and also proving himself a valuable threat in attack as well. He scored three goals for Minerva Punjab and his free-kicks were always a potent weapon. 

His goals always benefitted Surinder SIngh's side, seeing that one was a late equaliser against Aizawl FC and one came in a winning cause against Churchill Brothers. 

 


1. LOVEDAY ENYINNAYA


Loveday Enyinnaya Okechukwu Sporting Clube de Goa I-League

Loveday Enyinnaya has been another ever-present fixture in the Minerva Punjab first team this season. Though the team conceded goals galore, one felt it could have much worse if the Nigerian centre-back had not been part of the team. 

He was adept in aerial challenges and was one of the few consistent performers in a team that lacked that quality collectively. 

Like Kareem Nurain, Loveday was a great help for the team upfront too. He also scored three goals for the Punjab team, the joint-highest with Nurain. The 27-year-old was one of the few shining lights in a poor season for the team from Punjab. 

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