3/8/2018 6:31:26 AM (GMT+3)

Former JCT stars Tejinder, Abarowei hail Minerva’s rise

Former JCT stars Tejinder, Abarowei hail Minerva’s rise

NEW DELHI, India: A Punjabi football club is on the brink of winning the national title more than two decades after Jagatjit Cotton Textiles (JCT) won the inaugural National Football League (NFL) in 1996-97.

If Minerva Punjab wins the title tomorrow, it’ll be the sport’s revival story particularly after JCT was disbanded by its owners at the end of 2010-11 season.  

In fact, Punjab was devoid of any representation at the national level for a long time.

“It wasn’t a good sign for Indian football and the fans in Punjab. JCT was a legendary club,” former JCT striker Stephen Abarowei, and one of the members in that 1996-97 triumphant side, told www.khelupdates.com in an exclusive interview. “Minerva has brought back Punjab to the fore.”

The once mighty JCT had virtually dominated Indian football in mid 90s after the Phagwara-based club had signed several top stars including IM Vijayan, Joe Paul Anchery, Tejinder Kumar, Carlton Chapman, Baichung Bhutia among others.

“One senior journalist said last month ‘a two-year-old club is leading after the first round while the century-old clubs are lagging behind’. Good luck to Minerva. We will get to watch a thriller on the last day,” said former JCT captain and India international Tejinder.

JCT’s shutting shop was one of the saddest stories in Indian football, but with the rise of Minerva Punjab, the sport is back in the thick of things.

“JCT was a crack team. We had a good mixture of overseas and local players like Vijayan, Jo Paul, Bhutia, Chapman. After the disbandment of JCT, it’s refreshing to see a Punjab club on the verge of winning the I-League,” added Abarowei, who later joined Mohun Bagan in 1999-2000 season.