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I-League 2017/18: Khogen Singh insists on consistency after Minerva Punjab become champions

18:19 GMT+3 08/03/2018
Wangkhem Khogen Singh Aizawl FC Minerva Punjab FC I-League 2017/2018
Khogen Singh has now set his eyes on Super Cup after guiding Minerva to their maiden league title...

Minerva Punjab was crowned the I-League champions after they beat Churchill Brothers 1-0 at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula on Thursday. Minerva's head coach does not want to rest on his laurels and instead has already started planning for the upcoming Super Cup.

"We will be participating in the Super Cup. Then only we can find out the true champion of India.  I think there are not much difference in ISL and I-League teams," said Singh.

He insisted that there is not much difference in quality of the teams participating in the two leagues.

"I think the I-League is more competitive. There is not much difference in the standard of games in these leagues. In Super Cup, we will have to prove that I-League teams are at par even though they are built on low budgets," said a determined Singh.

The gaffer heaped praise on his team and stressed on 'team work' being the key reason behind their title triumph.

"I am very happy. I cannot express (in words). The success is a result of team work. We spent a lot of time in analysing our opponent's strengths and weaknesses. Last night also me and my assistant coach were up till 2 o' clock analysing Churchill versus Mohun Bagan match. I think this result reflects the hard work we put in."

"It is a long league. We have given our best. Our players are not that experienced as that of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. They might have been suffering from some psychological drawbacks during the middle of the league which affected our performance. I always advised them to keep their focus on being champions and they achieved it," quipped Singh gleefully. 

The head coach termed Sukhdev Singh as the 'backbone' of the team, although he did not want to differentiate between the performance of Indians and foreigners. 

"Sukhdev is the backbone of our team. He has been consistent throughout the league. We do not divide between Indian and foreign players. We always see them as a team. Once we go onto the pitch, there are no Africans or Indians as we perform as a team. Actually our playing style is not dependent on long balls. We try to play out from the back and control the midfield. But according to game situation and opponent we are ready to change our style. Today Churchill played long balls. We kept three strikers to press them high," commented Singh on their style of play. 

The former Air India player reveals that off-the field fixing drama did not affect them as their sole focus was on being champions.

"(Fixing charges) It has not affected the team at all. We discussed about it and said that our focus should be on being champions. We told the boys to go and shoot the target. Therefore, I think it has not affected our game.

"Everyone is human. They can make mistakes. But Chencho has been consistent throughout the season and has helped us with goals and assists. He has been an important cog in our midfield formation. The league has been long. We are not robots but humans. We are bound to have dips in performances. Sometimes we were unlucky but we have been mostly consistent. That's why we have become champions," explained Singh. 

The former left back was ecstatic after being crowned as champions for the first time in his career.

"It is altogether a very different feeling. As a player when I played for Air India I never got the taste of being a champion. This is the first time in my life, I have become a champion. It means a lot," signed off Singh.