Ludhia, Nov 24: Home side Minerva Punjab is set to take on Mohun Bagan in the opening match of the 11th Hero I-League football tourment here on Saturday.
Asked about the new faces in his squad, the new head coach of Minerva Punjab, Wankhem Khogen Singh, said he believed in the youth team.
"There have been many changes since last year for Minerva Punjab. We have selectively picked up a pretty young side. Most of our players are in their early 20s which suggest we believe in our youth system," he said.
Minerva signed five new foreigners this season while retaining the services of Lago who was on loan to Lonestar Kashmir last season.
"Some of the foreign signing for this season are Toshiya, who hails from Japan and plays in the defensive midfield position. Another great prospect is Kassim from Senegal who partners Toshiya in midfield," the Manipuri coach replied.
Minerva Punjab captain Sukhdev Singh was asked about the popularity of football in Punjab.
"There are many pockets all over India in which football is extremely popular... Punjab was a big powerhouse in the 20th century," he said.
"If you look at the last four years, football in Punjab is back on track. People are getting familiar with the game, children are taking a big interest in some areas such as Malpur."
Sanjoy Sen, head coach of Mohun Bagan, said about his team's preparation: "The team is almost new. Last year we were able to beat Minerva Punjab and this season also we expect the same outcome."
Mohun Bagan had a mixed pre-season this year but Sen was pretty straight that pre-season results don't reflect the team's preparations.
"The pre-season is all about preparation and not much about the results. If you look at our match against FC Pune City which we lost 1-4, the result could have been a lot different as we created much more chances than the opposition... I expect a great game tomorrow," he said. IANS