Minerva Punjab beat NEROCA 1-0 in Imphal to move inches closer to the I-League title. Star player Chencho Gyeltshen scored the only goal of the match in the second minute to seal full points for the table toppers. With today’s win, the side from Punjab have now pocketed 25 points from 10 matches.
Minerva coach Khogen Singh said, “I enjoyed the game. It was very tough for us. I knew NEROCA were a tough team. It was a good game overall.”
On asked if they are already thinking about winning the title after the win over the north-eastern outfit, the coach replied, “We are still midway in the league. We have two more away matches against East Bengal and Churchill Brothers. We have to take at least four points from them. We still have to win at least two more matches before thinking about the championship.”
On how Minerva approached the game against NEROCA, Singh said, “Our planning today was to attack all out in the first 15 minutes. We had this in our mind that after scoring if we defend properly in the first half, we will be able to overcome in the second half as well. We got an early goal and so we won.”
NEROCA coach Gift Raikhan opined that his side fought whole-heartedly and were dominant but unfortunately lost. “We tried a lot today but we conceded early in the match. Minerva are not an easy team. They are a very good side. Our mistake was that we conceded a goal early. We tried to defend well, we missed some chances but we dominated the game. So I am happy. If we continue like this I think we will be on the top of the table again,” said Raikhan.
He continued, “In football, anything can happen. There are so many matches to go. Minerva may lose some games because the top sides are waiting for them. We were unlucky today. We missed chances and conceded a goal because we didn't mark him (Chencho Gyeltshen).”
The NEROCA boss confirmed that they are looking for a new striker before the Super Cup. “All my players are good but I need a better striker who can score goals. We are planning to get one before the Super Cup."