Minerva Punjab's results thus far at the I-League have hardly been something to be proud of. Even less so for a defending champion.
The men from Chandigarh were held to a goalless draw by Churchill Brothers in their opening match and were then shocked 0-1 by debutant Real Kashmir in the second. It did salvage some pride – and three precious points – in its last match, with a 2-1 victory over Aizawl FC, the rock-bottom dweller.
It would, therefore, be going to Sunday's I-League match at the Corporation Stadium in a confident frame of mind, but it is up against a side that is getting better and better. After its convincing 3-1 win, here, in its last game against Shillong Lajong, Gokulam Kerala FC should once again be itching to go all out. That was the first win of the season for Bino George’s boys, having lost to Chennai City (2-3) and split points with Mohun Bagan (1-1) and Neroca FC (1-1).
Against Lajong last week it had played without two of its key men – Mudde Musa and Arjun Jayaraj – but showed that there was enough strength on the bench. Though Arjun is available for selection, after recovering from fever, Musa isn't: the skipper has been suspended for three matches after earning a red card in the match against Chennai.
But, with the midfield and the frontline looking in good touch, Bino could afford to be in a sanguine mood. “We have the momentum with us. The team is settling down nicely. We are looking at three points; we have no other option,” he said.
His counterpart, Paul Munster, the former Northern Ireland striker who took charge of Minerva three months ago, doesn't have too many options, either. “The last match has given the players a lot of confidence. So, we are ready for this game,” he said.
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