Minerva Punjab presented with I-League trophy

The season awards for top goal-scorer, best goalkeeper, etc. were also handed out.

Minerva Punjab players get their hands on the trophy.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Hero I-League 2017-18 champion Minerva Punjab FC was presented with the I-League trophy at a glitzy ceremony held in Chandigarh today (March 22).

Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation and Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League graced the occasion where the crowned champions were bestowed with the coveted silverware.

Minerva Punjab FC along with NEROCA FC, Mohun Bagan and Kingfisher East Bengal were alive on the title race until the final day of this season (March 8) but finally, the Khogen Singh-coached team edged Churchill Brothers FC Goa at its own backyard to clinch the silverware, thanks to the first-half strike by William Opoku Asiedu.

Read: Infantino congratulates Minerva on title win

With Minerva Punjab FC's triumph, the trophy made a comeback to the Northern part of India after a prolonged wait of 21 years.

Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation lauded Minerva Punjab FC on their maiden I-League title. "Congratulations Minerva Punjab Football Club on winning the Hero I-League 2017-18 and gaining a spot in the ACL Qualifiers for the next season. The League has been a very competitive and exciting one and it was nice to see four teams having a chance to win it on the final day," he said in his message.

Kushal Das also congratulated Minerva Punjab FC on the achievement. "Well played Minerva Punjab Football Club, the deserving champions of the Hero I-League. The manner in which you sealed it is in itself a story. I trust the victory will encourage kids to follow and play the sport more.”

Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League heaped lavish praise on the success and termed it as a 'landmark for Indian Football."

He stated: "Minerva Punjab FC's win is a landmark for Indian Football, let alone the club itself. Their success rightly showed that proper planning and investment in youth development can help a club reach the summit."

Minerva Punjab FC is now gearing up to continue its fairy tale run in the Hero Super Cup 2018 where it'll face Jamshedpur FC in the round of 16 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on April 2.

Meanwhile, the individual awardees' names were also announced today. They are as follows:

Best Goalkeeper: Shilton Paul (Mohun Bagan)

Jarnail Singh Award for Best Defender: Varney K Kallon (NEROCA FC)

Best Midfielder: Soosairaj Michael (Chennai City FC)

Best Forward: Chencho Gyeltshen (Minerva Punjab FC)

Highest Scorer: Dipanda Dicka (Mohun Bagan)

Best Emerging Player (U-22): Samuel Lalmuanpuia (Shillong Lajong FC)

Syed Abdul Rahim Award for Best Coach: Gift Raikhan (NEROCA FC)

Best Match Organiser: NEROCA FC

Fairplay Award: NEROCA FC

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