I-League 2017/18: East Bengal's Mahmoud Amnah rubbishes concerns over pitch after win against Minerva Punjab
The race for the title in the 2017/18 edition of the I-League took a dramatic turn as Kolkata giants East Bengal defeated leaders Minerva Punjab 1-0 on Tuesday at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, thanks to a stunning second-half goal from midfielder Cavin Lobo. With this result, the Red and Gold brigade still remain in contention as they sit in third place on the table with 26 points, six less than Minerva and with both sides having four games left to play.
In a nervy first half where chances were few and far between, it was the away side that had the upper hand and dominated possession. They struck through a rasping drive from Lobo at the hour mark, who latched on to a back-heel pass from Mahmoud Amnah and rifled the ball into the top corner from outside the penalty area.
From there, Minerva pushed forward in search of the equalizer but were unable to hit the back of the net, with William Opoku guilty of missing a gilt-edged chance with a free header from close range.
"The last 15 minutes, the pressure was on us," stated East Bengal manager Khalid Jamil in the post-match press conference, before adding, "But I was confident that we would be able to hold on and we did that. Now, our focus is on winning the next match."
When asked about the opposition's lack of attacking intent, especially during the first half, Jamil replied, "They (Minerva) always play like this. They prefer to sit back and then break on the counter. We came prepared for them."
Amnah, who picked up the Hero of the Match award, also expressed his relief at notching up the win. He said, "It was an important match since Minerva are the top side on the table and this was our chance to remain in the hunt."
When asked about the poor state of the pitch and whether it affected his team's game, the Syrian responded by saying, "We are professional players. Sometimes, we play on good grounds and other times, on bad ones. Our focus is only on the result and winning the three points."