The top flight debutants want to put Punjab football on the map…
Last season’s performance: 2nd in I-League 2nd Division
Minerva Punjab FC started the 2015-16 season brightly but could not clinch the title being bettered by Dempo Sports Club in the long run. The runners-up ended their season with 18 points and a 5-point gap to the champions Dempo.
Minerva had appointed Surinder Singh as head coach in 2015. Singh is set to continue with the Punjab-based side for their I-League 2016-17 campaign.
The 43-year-old has previous coaching experience which includes working with the All India Football Federation (AIFF’s) various youth teams. In 2011, Singh was appointed as the assistant coach of Pailan Arrows, the federation’s development side. In 2013, Singh left his job with the Arrows and in the next year he was appointed by Minerva Punjab FC.
The tactician has been in-charge of the Punjabi team for 18 matches in which he has won 11, drawn four and lost three matches. He has an impressive winning percentage of 61.11% with the club.
Former Indian National Team Technical Director & Head of Youth Development Colm Toal will be deputed as the Technical Director of the team.
Minerva Punjab FC has been busy allocating a budget for new faces at their disposal. While they have added more than 20 new faces in the squad, they have kept their original team from last year intact.
Retained: Minerva have retained few of their original I-League 2nd Division team which consisted of local talents like Krishna Pandit.
Transfers In: The Chandigarh based club have added a huge amount of fresh blood into their ranks. Several of whom have come from Goan clubs such as Dempo, Sporting Clube De Goa and Salgaocar FC who pulled out of the I-League 2016-17 season couple of months ago. Jovel Martins, Ravi Kumar, Harpreet Singh, Souvick Das, Loveday Enyinnaya, Germanpreet Singh and Manandeep Singh have all joined the Warriors from Goa. Minerva have signed former Aizawl striker Joel Sunday from FC Bardez. They have added Vishal Kumar, a veteran right-back who played for defending champions Bengaluru FC in the last edition of the I-League as a free agent. Minerva Punjab have lured in several sensational midfielders such as Vinit Rai, Rakesh Oram from Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City FC respectively. The Chandigarh-based club made it into the limelight when they acquired AIFF academy products and Indian U-16 as well as U-19 internationals Prosenjit Chakraborty,Bedeshwor Singh,Boaringdao Bodo and Anirudh Thapa, the latter being the Indian U-19 captain. Moinuddin Khan, Nuruddin, Arshdeep Singh and Kamalpreet Singh Grewal who spent time with Chakraborty and Thapa at the AIFF Elite Academy have also joined the club for the forthcoming season. Deepak Devrani was brought in Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan. Defender Ramandeep Singh has been roped in by Minerva from Kerala Blasters. Minerva Academy product Arshdeep Singh has also been awarded a professional contract from the club for the upcoming I-League season.
In the foreign department the club have also signed Victor Amobi who has played recently at various Nepali clubs and are in talks with an Asain striker for final fourth spot .
Formation and Tactics
The debutants are known for their attacking football and they will stick with than ethos in a conventional 4-3-3 formation.
Ravi Kumar should start in goal behind a newly assembled back four of Gurjinder, Ramandeep, Loveday and Vishal Kumar. Vinit Rai will sit in front of the defence in a midfield also includIng Germanpreet and Anirudh Thapa. Manandeep will lead the line with Sunday and Voctor Amobi in support. Arashpreet and Nuruddin will provide cover in the full-back positions.
Man to Watch: Manandeep Singh
The striker has traveled through various clubs on the Indian football scene including East Bengal and Salgaocar. He has also been withy ISL outfits Delhi Dynamos and Kerala Blasters. A key recruit in a young Minerva setup Manandeep will have the responsibility of finishing of the chances at the top end of the pitch. He will also need to hold up the ball and bring teammates into play.
Minerva did remarkably well in the I-League 2nd Division last season. In order to compete in the top tier they have added many talented young players. However, lack of experience is going to be a real factor for Surinder Singh’s men and building team chemistry in a short span of time is going to be hard for the Warriors. With this being their maiden season in the top flight, the sole target for the club will be to avoid relegation and to consolidate their top flight status.
- Arshdeep Singh(GK)– AIFF Elite Academy, India U-16 & India U-19
- Ravi Kumar (GK)– Former India U-19, Sporting Club De Goa & Delhi Dynamos
- Kamaljit Singh (GK)– Former India U-19, Sporting Club De Goa
- Vishal Kumar – Former India U-16, U-19, U-23 & Bengaluru FC
- Deepak Devrani– Former India U-19, U-23 & Mohun Bagan
- Kamalpreet Singh– AIFF Elite Academy / India U-16, India U-19
- Harpreet Singh– Sporting Club De Goa
- Gurjinder Kumar – Former U-23, Indian National Team & FC Pune City
- Jovel Martins– Sporting Club De Goa
- Ramandeep Singh– Kerala Blasters
- Arashpreet Singh – Minerva Punjab FC Youth Development Program
- Krishna Pandit– Former captain of India U-16
- Loveday Enyinnaya– Sporting Club De Goa
- Nuruddin– Former India U-16, U-19 & FC Pune City
- Palsang Lama– Former Nepal National Team now holds Indian passport
- Rakesh Oram– AIFF Elite Academy, India Junior Teams & Mumbai City FC
- Moinuddin– AIFF Elite Academy & India U-19
- Prosenjit Chakraborty– AIFF Elite Academy, FC Metz Academy (France), India Junior Teams & Chennaiyin FC
- Altamash Syed– FC Pune City Academy & Pune FC
- Bedeshwor Singh– AIFF Elite Academy, FC Metz Academy (France), India Junior Teams & Chennaiyin FC
- Lalrempuia Fanai– Former India U-19 & FC Pune City
- Simranjeet Singh– Mohun Bagan
- Souvick Das– Sporting Club De Goa
- Germanpreet Singh – Former India U-19, India U-23 & Indian National Team / Dempo SC
- Vinit Rai – Former India U-20, U-23 & Kerala Blasters
- Anirudh Thapa– AIFF Elite Academy, FC Metz Academy (France), India Junior Teams & Chennaiyin FC
- Victor Amobi – Former Best Player of Neopal Football League
- Manandeep Singh– Former India Junior Teams & Indian National Team player / Kerala Blasters
- Boaringdao Bodo– AIFF Elite Academy, FC Metz Academy (France), India Junior Teams & Chennaiyin FC
- Joel Sunday– Aizawl FC
- Uttam Rai – AIFF Elite Academy, FC Metz Academy (France), India Junior Teams & Chennaiyin FC