Panchkula (Haryana), Feb 12 (IANS) League leaders Minerva Punjab are set to welcome title-contenders East Bengal in their own backyard at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula here on Tuesday.
The match will be a special affair for both the coaches, Khogen Singh and Khalid Jamil, who were former teammates in Air India and are now vying to outwit each other in what can be termed as a potential title-decider.
The game, however, will not be easy considering the weather conditions in Chandigarh where it has been raining continuously since Sunday night.
It’s a must-win for Jamil’s boys who are sitting on 23 points in 13 matches, six points behind their opponents and title favourites Minerva, who are on 29 points after playing as many matches as their rivals.
Minerva, on the other hand, will be cautious not to drop points which might shake their title-hope and could pour cold water on their fairytale title run.
Jamil praised the home side for their superb run this season.
“They are playing very good, especially at their home. They have a 100 per cent record; so this match will not be easy for us. But still, there is a long way to go.”
Meanwhile, he asserted that the Red & Golds are still not willing to give up on their title hopes.
“We are 100 per cent going for the title. We must think positive and we must get positive results. Everyone plays the game with a full heart, hence the results come. They are scoring goals and that is the main thing,” he said at a press conference.
On being asked about the impact former East Bengal player Bazie, who recently signed for Minerva, will make on the match, Khalid said, “We will see it tomorrow itself. If we win tomorrow, then losing him was a good decision.”
Khogen Singh looked concerned about the ground conditions and said that the sticky pitch might have an impact on the game.
On being asked the importance of the game since winning this match will make Minerva favourites to pick up the title, Wangkhem Khogen Singh said, “In my opinion, every match is important because we have not won the league until now. We might have to go to the last match of the league. So every match is a final for us and East Bengal is very competitive.”
Minerva Punjab’s centre back and long throw-in specialist Sukhdev Singh was asked about the away fixture where Minerva lost a two-goal cushion to the Red & Golds in the dying moments.
“We were leading in the first half, but we conceded two goals in the second half. I think we played too defensive then. Still, it was a good result for us since that was our away game and now we have home advantage and the atmosphere is set. We will go for three points in this match,” he said.