On Tuesday afternoon, hosts East Bengal drew against Minerva Punjab in a 2-2 result which saw Sukhdev Singh (20’), Chencho Gyeltshen (33’), Joby Justin (59’) and Brandon VL 989’) register their names on the scoresheet.
Assessing the result, the Kolkata side’s head coach Khalid Jamil stated that his players were well aware of Minerva Punjab’s intimidating nature. Although things did not go as per plan for Jamil, he refuses to give up hope in the race for the title.
‘’I came into the game knowing that Minerva (Punjab) were the firm side. We (East Bengal) knew this will be a stiff challenge. We still have a chance and we must have optimism. Don’t compare this match with the derby; this happens. Things did not go right this time but hopefully will in the future,’’ he commented while expressing his displeasure following the two points dropped at home soil.
New recruit and former Mohun Bagan striker Ansumana Kromah made his debut at the Barasat Stadium in the 42nd minute. Speaking about Kroma and former Chennaiyin FC player Dudu Omagbemi, Khalid said, ‘’It was my idea to bring them into the club. I take full responsibility.’’
Katsumi Yusa took the blame for missing the spot-kick awarded to Red and Golds in the 50th minute which could have turned the result in their favour. The Japan-born attacker claimed that the Kolkata outfit’s efforts to clinch the title won’t stop despite the setback.
‘’Conceding an early goal was detrimental. Maybe if I could score the penalty, we would have won 3-2 but we can never give up. I take the blame. I assure the supporters that none of the players or the management is going to give up on the title race. It is not over until it is. We are going to fight until the end of the season and I hope to see more crowds come in to see the game,’’ asserted the 29-year-old.
Lastly, the Minerva Punjab head coach Khogen Singh discussed the penalty decision which was given against his side when Laldanmawia Ralte was brought down by Kassim Aidara inside the 18-yard-box. ‘’I don't know if that was a penalty. We (Minerva Punjab) are in this position because we deserve to be. We can only go forward from here but there are still a lot of matches left to play,’’ he concluded.
Following the 2-2 result, Minerva Punjab lead the league standings with 26 points from 11 matches while East Bengal are placed third with 20 points from 12 games.