Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation (AIFF) 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 East Bengal Club were alive on the title race until the final day of this season (March 8, 2018) but finally, the Khogen Singh-coached team edged Churchill Brothers SC at their own backyard to clinch the silverware, thanks to the first-half strike by William Opoku Asiedu.
With Minerva Punjab FC’s triumph, the trophy made a comeback to the Northern part of India after a prolonged wait of 21 years.
Mr. 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.”
Mr. Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League heaped lavish praise on their 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 now gearing up to continue their run in the Hero Super Cup 2018 where they’ll face Jamshedpur FC in the round of 16 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on April 2, 2018.
Meanwhile, the individual awardees‘ names were also announced today.
Best Goalkeeper: Shilton Paul (Mohun Bagan AC)
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 AC)
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