Indian Arrows hopes to leapfrog defending champion Minerva Punjab

Defending champion Minerva Punjab heads to Bhubaneswar to take on Indian Arrows in a bid to snap its eight-match winless run in the I-League.

Indian Arrows has notched up encouraging wins in the ongoing I-League.   -  AIFF MEDIA

Indian Arrows would look to register its fifth win of the season when it meets a struggling Minerva Punjab FC in their I-League match here on Tuesday.

If the developmental side of the All India Football Federation can pull off a win at its ‘home’ venue Kalinga Stadium, it will leapfrog the defending champion from Punjab and move up to a creditable seventh spot on the points table.

Minerva Punjab had beaten the Arrows by a solitary goal in the reverse fixture more than two months ago, but the youngsters under coach Floyd Pinto have found a semblance of consistency in performance since then.

The Arrows now lie ninth on the table with 13 points from 15 games and a win on Tuesday would take them clear of seventh-placed Minerva and eighth-placed Aizawl FC (both have 14 points from 14 games).

Minerva’s problems have been compounded by the fact that it has not won in eight games in two months, and have scored just once in that period. It goes into Tuesday’s game after shock losses to Aizawl and bottom-placed Shillong Lajong at home.

Its Irish coach Paul Munster said his side has come with a positive attitude and ready for the game.

“It’s a very important match for us and we know we have a chance of winning the away game. After this game, we are again travelling for AFC Cup. So this game is a moral and confidence booster for us to get three points for the players,” he said.

“We know that Indian Arrows are all young players, full of energy and they are very committed. We have a lot of young players, and they too are just as energetic and perhaps a bit more experienced in the mix. Hoping that to be the turning point for tomorrow.”

The Arrows, on the other hand, trounced Shillong 3-0 before giving tough fights in losses against the likes of East Bengal, Churchill Brothers and Neroca FC, all title contenders at this stage.

“Every match for us is a challenge. We take every match with the aim of winning. The last few matches, we have been on the wrong side of a one goal game. We are reasonably happy with our effort,” Pinto said.

“It is high time we score some points. It is a tough game tomorrow. Last match in Chandigarh, we were not able to convert our chances. We have always been a team very difficult to beat. Our conversion rate has improved. It’s now the time to take the right decisions at this point in the league,” said Pinto.

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