BY NISANTH V EASWAR Follow @Niktheblue94 on Twitter
Minerva Punjab are in the limelight for the right reasons. Four games into the new season and they are top of the table, unbeaten and three points ahead of Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan, who have a game in hand.
Just like it is unfair to criticise one player for the defeat of a team, it would be considered an exaggeration to say Minerva's new signing Chencho Gyeltshen is the reason why they are where they are. But surprisingly, his role in the club's fantastic start to the season cannot be overlooked. The exciting talent of Bhutanese forward Chencho, popularly known as the Ronaldo of Bhutan or CG7 in his country, has been unleashed by the Khogen Singh-led I-League side.
The Punjab-based club kicked off their season with a 1-1 stalemate against Mohun Bagan at home. Sony Norde's first-half goal was not enough for the giants to keep out Minerva's spirited attack in the second half. They got their equaliser in the dying moments of the game to claim a valuable point against a team considered by many as favourites for the league title this season.
Next up for Minerva were newcomers NEROCA and once again, they fought their way back into the game after going a goal down early in the first half. William Asiedu notched a brace in their third game to seal a 2-0 win over Indian Arrows and on Sunday, for the third time in four matches, Minerva came back from behind to win the game 2-1 against Chennai City.
There is an underlying spirit amongst the Minerva Punjab players. Make no mistake, they are good footballers but what has stood out so far is the unwillingness to give up.
With someone like Chencho Gyeltshen acting as a 90-minute outlet on the left, Lago Bei and William Asiedu always have an alternate option to pass the ball.
As long as their prime man is in form, the chances will arrive and it is a matter of converting those opportunities.
Owner Ranjit Bajaj has come under the spotlight for various reasons over the years but when he looks back, the former MTV Roadies celebrity has not only invested in a mighty project of getting a football club up and running but he has also managed to oversee the development of young players.
The success of the club is established in the fact that they finished runners-up in the second division only last year (2015-16 season) but now find themselves sitting at the top of India's top tier football league.
Let's not pile up the expectations on Minerva for they are a young club without superstars. When it comes to the production and development of youth players who later end up in the national team, Minerva Punjab are second to none. For the same reason, they need time and space to grow.
They don't have to win the title this year to impress football lovers in the country. However, imagine if Chencho and co. can follow Aizawl FC's lead and pull off another Leicester City in this season's I-League? It would be nothing that they didn't deserve.