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I-League 2018: Minerva Punjab ropes in Sukhwinder Singh as Technical Director, club owner Ranjit Bajaj ecstatic

648   //    17 Jul 2018, 18:40 IST

Left - Sukhwinder Singh, Right - Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj
Left - Sukhwinder Singh, Right - Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj

What's the story?

It is official that the former I-league Champions Minerva Punjab FC have roped in former India Senior team coach Sukhwinder Singh as the Technical Director for the upcoming season. 

In case you didn't know...

Sukhwinder Singh is a very respected and popular personality in the Indian football circuit. The 69-year-old has a vast resume, having coached a number of sides. 

Under his guidance, JCT FC became the first Indian team outside Kolkata to win the IFA Shield and also won the inaugural edition of the National Football League (now the I-League) in 1996 along with grabbing multiple other laurels. However, JCT was disbanded following the 2010–11 I-League season -- the reason for which was cited as a lack of interest for football in India.

The Heart of the matter

While speaking to Sportskeeda, Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj said:

Sukhwinder Sir is an encyclopedia of football. What usually happens in domestic football in India is that many clubs bring in foreign Technical Directors, not understanding the fact that the local players can not pick up with them so fast. Even the foreighners take a lot of time to get used to the conditions in India and it is likewise for the local players. Whereas someone like Sukhwinder -- who has coached the biggest names like Sunil Chhetri, Bhaichung Bhutia, and legendary IM Vijayan to name a few -- will definitely bring his experience to the fore. Indian players have tremendous amount of respect for him and are bound to listen to him. Especially the Indians who are not so responsive to foreighers are more responsive to him -- this I have checked up already.

Meanwhile, Minerva players are gearing up for the upcoming AFC Cup, whose matches would probably be played at the Guru Govind Singh Stadium (the former home of JCT) in Jalandhar. Sukhwinder Singh comes to the forefront of domestic football after a long time. He worked with Pailan Arrows (now known as Indian Arrows) in 2011-12, before taking the ownership of India U-23 team and finally moving on to Churchill Brothers. However, the veteran tactician has usually played the responsibility of a coach and the position of a Technical Director would be new and interesting for him. 

Born in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, Sukhwinder would be an interesting addition to the Blue outfits. Under his guidance and mentorship, the chances of defending the I-league title have been bolstered. 

"I was observing the way he was conducting the sessions and it was great to see how the kids were responding to him. I think he still has a lot to give to Indian football. The best part is that we do not need to get any other coach and the junior coaches can now learn from Sukhwinder and Surender (the current TD) and become good coaches themselves. Furthermore, this will be great for football in Punjab in general," Ranjit Bajaj, the euphoria evident in his voic.

What's next

It will be interesting to see how the senior tactician works with the current Technical Director Surinder Singh and Coach Sachin Tanaji Badadhe of Minerva.

The new appointment brings good news for football aficionado's in Punjab as Sukhi Sir, as he is popularly called, is sure to bring the magic of the good old JCT led golden days of Punjab football.

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