I League: Indian Arrows to face in-form Minerva Punjab

The sides meet for the second time this season, this time at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana.

Minerva Punjab forward Chencho (left) at a training session ahead of the game.   -  AIFF Media

After a 10-day break, a stern test awaits young Indian Arrows as it faces table topper Minerva Punjab in an away I-League fixture at the Guru Nanak Stadium here on Monday. The side, comprising members of India’s U-17 World Cup squad and the U-19 squad, was on the receiving end when these two sides met in Goa, thanks to William Opoku Asiedu’s brilliant brace.

The team’s coach Luis Norton de Matos has already clarified it’s not the result he is looking for but the development of the young side. “I again want to point out that we are not here to win or lose. We are here for the experience of the competitive matches. My team is very young. They are 18-year-old players and it’s essential that they play bigger stronger opponents for their development,” De Matos said.

In preparing for the challenge, Matos said he studied Minerva Punjab really well. “We have worked on Minerva’s strength, especially their throw-in and other set pieces. Minerva are the leaders of I- League and are a very strong side,” he added.

‘Long-term project’

It’s a long-term project to make Indian players adapt to the European style of play, according to the coach. “Yes, it’s a long-term project. I don’t want to change my style of play for a different opponent every game. I want my players to play the same kind of football so that when these players are ready in two years for the senior side they can counter European teams easily. In order to achieve this the players need more competition,” De Matos said.

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Minerva Punjab coach Wangkhem Khogen Singh declared he will field an unchanged starting line-up on Monday. “We want to keep our winning streak to stretch as much as possible. We will not change our team or our team tactics. We won’t take any side lightly no matter how our opponent is,” he stressed.

The team's Bhutanese striker Chencho said, “We want three points. That’s it. We will try our best to achieve that,” he said.

Minerva Punjab has accumulated 10 points from four matches so far.

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