Minerva Academy FC are in Sikkim to face Gangtok Himalayan SC in their 3rd match of the 2nd Division I-League match at the Paljor Stadium on Thursday. The match kick-off at 2:00 PM.
The Pride of Punjab are on a two-match unbeaten run, having played out a goalless draw against NEROCA FC in their first match and beating Mohammedan Sporting Club in the second. They are on 4 points and will desperately seek another 3 points on Thursday to stay on par with NEROCA, who are on 7 points after beating Lonestar Kashmir FC on Wednesday.
The home side on the other hand would not like to settle for anything less than a win, having amassed just 1 point from two matches. They suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Dempo SC in their first match while held Lonestar Kashmir FC 1-1 in their second.
Hence, before going on road from the 4th round, Gangtok will at least look to have one win at home to stay close to the leaders in the standing.
Minerva on the other hand will look to top the table for which they need 3 points and win at least with a 3 goal margin to topple NEROCA from the top.
“That’s a big ask but not impossible,” says club Director Ranjit Bajaj after taking a motivational session with the players in the team hotel in Gangtok after outdoor training was cut short due to hail storm.
“Players are both physically and mentally fit, despite being in a high altitude. That’s a good sign for us. We have had two hard core training sessions and everyone is ready for the match,” he added.
Coach Surinder Singh joined the discussion, and spoke in the same vein, saying “The match is going to be tough. GHSC is a good team and we have to respect the fact that they are playing at home.”
Gangtok are a tough nut to crack, a testimony is their 2nd place finish in the zonal round and the fact that Dempo SC could beat them only with 1-0 scoreline with so many I-League and ISL players in their rank. GHSC just have Nadong Bhutia with ISL experience.
“They are a team with almost the full squad formed of local boys. So they know the conditions well and we will have a tough time with them. But as always, we are also prepared and will give all we have to go back home with 3 points,” coach Surinder concluded.
Minerva coincidentally has a player from Sikkim – Dilliram Sanyasi, who is excited to play in front of his home crowd and is expected to play crucial role in the match.
“Yes, feels good to be playing at home. My friends and family will be there to cheer and support me and Minerva. I am hoping we go back to Chandigarh with 3 points,” the diminutive winger said.