Minerva Punjab begin their season as reigning champions with a clash against Churchill Brothers at the Tau Devi Lal stadium, Panchkula, on Sunday afternoon.
The club's technical director, Paul Munster, believes that the team needs to play as winners in order to successfully defend their title.
"I'm very excited personally and professionally. As a player and a coach, I have been winning titles and cups. So for me it's normal. It just needs to be instilled in the players that it can be done," the Irishman told reporters ahead of the tie.
"There are always expectations if you're winning or if you're losing, but especially now that the team has won (the title). We are no longer the underdogs but the winners. So every team is going to be up against us. We also know what to expect," he added.
The 36-year-old UEFA Pro License holder has also advised his players to step up their game to earn themselves regular game time.
"It's up to the players to step up, because if they don't, they don't (get) to play. All these players have their own dreams and ambitions to go higher in their lives in their profession. Once the game starts, it's 90 minutes. Once they cross the white line, it's up to them to perform," he stated.
The coach of the visiting side, Churchill Brothers' Petre Gigiu, has meanwhile urged his side not to repeat last season's performance that led them to getting relegated before they were reinstated in the I-League by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
"I was not here last season. I understand that Minerva Punjab is very good. We will try to obtain a good result with a good game. I don't know exactly what happened last season, but I propose that we don't repeat the story and we will do what is required for that not to happen," remaked the Romanian.
With regard to the ground condition for the afternoon 2 PM IST kick-off, he responded, "The ground is the same for us and the opponent. We must play good."