Football in Punjab has a new face now: Gurpreet

Kolkata, Dec 11 (IANS) India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who not only made the country but his hometown Chandigarh proud with his unprecedented exploits in Europe, said Punjab football now has a new face with Minerva FC getting direct entry into the I-League.

“Football in Punjab and Chandigarh has a new face now. I am very happy for them honestly,” Sandhu, who is the first Indian to play in the Europa League with Norwegian team Stabaek FC, told IANS over phone moments after the Chandigarh-based outfit was inducted into India’s premier club competition along with Chennai City FC.

The bid evaluation committee on Sunday gave the green signal to these two clubs while the likes of FC Bardez Goa, Neroca FC and Sudeva FC were ruled out.

“They have worked relentlessly to get this opportunity. This is a very important restart to things here,” Sandhu, set to come back to Punjab for the off-season after helping his club stave off relegation, added.

Minerva had finished behind Dempo in the I-League second division in 2016. The last team to play in the top division from Punjab were JCT.

The I-League, which starts from January 7, will now be of 10 teams including Aizawl FC whose relegation was revoked, and Churchill Brothers who were shown the door by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for not fulfilling the mandatory club licensing criteria in 2014.

–IANS

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