Minerva Punjab FC co-owner Ranjit Bajaj has always been in the spotlight since their I-League title win and East Bengal has been involved in the story almost every time. Starting from East Bengal’s transfer ban back in September, to a call recording of Mr. Bajaj and a Bagan supporter being exposed, Minerva and East Bengal have been worst foes in the battle of I-League.
Minerva Punjab FC complained against Quess East Bengal FC prior to the start of this season for wrongfully signing their player, Sukhdev Singh. Sukhdev played a major role in the Punjab side’s I-League win, but, he too was banned from playing any competitive game for four months and a fine of Rs. 50,000/- was imposed on him. East Bengal was banned till the end of January, 2019 from signing any player, which was later reduced to the end of December, 2018.
Now, East Bengal FC and Chennai City are the two teams fighting for the Championship on the last matchday. Chennai faced Churchill Brothers FC Goa on 1st March at Tilak Maidan in their penultimate match, while Quess East Bengal FC faced Minerva Punjab FC in their fixture. Before Chennai City FC’s game, Mr. Bajaj tweeted about his realisation of Chennai City being crowned champions at Goa. Although, Churchill managed to defeat Chennai, East Bengal supporters started to think that Minerva would be deliberately losing to Chennai in their last game so that East Bengal will not win the title.
A call recording came to light where Mr. Ranjit Bajaj promised a Mohun Bagan member that they would give their everything to stop East Bengal at Tau Devi Lal Stadium on 3rd March, but East Bengal managed to win the game to close on to a one-pointer Championship battle with Chennai City FC.
Since Shillong Lajong FC lost to Aizawl FC and confirmed their relegation, East Bengal fans fear that Minerva Punjab would let Chennai win in their last game. But Ranjit Bajaj assured them that there will be no such incident like that and he would line up his strongest squad against the league toppers and try with all their might to stop them.
Apart from this a new incident came to light when an East Bengal fan bet that if Minerva Punjab FC manages to stop Chennai City FC, he would name his child as “Ranjit” after Ranjit Bajaj.
Mr. Bajaj who has a sharp sense of humour aroused conscience in the fan and told him to get ready to name his child “Ranjit”! He added “Anyone who knows me, knows for a fact that Chennai will have a huge battle on their hands. In fact the only team that almost beat them are us and that too when we were doing badly, before they lost to Real Kashmir FC”.
Ranjit Bajaj went on to uncover a new story of him being named after someone named Ranjit. “Fact – I was named by my dad after a Bengali gentleman who is my dad’s best friend Ranjit Mohanty- Retired DGP, West Bengal Police.”
Ranjit Mohanty turned out to be an East Bengal fan, and East Bengal fans told Mr. Bajaj that it is time for payback. Mr. Bajaj expressed that he wants to assure East Bengal supporters that if they want a team who can cause problems to Chennai City FC, Minerva would be the best of the lot. He said “We will not let this title go to Chennai so easily. They have to do something special to beat us that day. If Chennai thinks that we’ll come to their home to lose, they are wrong. We will give it our best.”
He added “I have been fighting against these situations from the start. I am against match fixing, and now if we let Chennai win then it is a kind of match fixing. Now, as East Bengal fans are claiming that I’ll play my U-18 team or rest my foreigners for AFC Cup, it will be unfair to them. So I assure them of fielding my full strength team in the last match against Chennai.”
Permutations and Combinations of who will win the league:
1) Chennai City FC defeats Minerva Punjab FC- Regardless of the result of East Bengal’s game, Chennai will be crowned Champions.
2) Chennai City FC loses to Minerva and Quess East Bengal FC draws against Gokulam Kerala- Both the teams will be on 40 points, so, Chennai will be crowned Champions due to a better Head-to-Head record.
3) Chennai City FC loses/draws to Minerva and Quess East Bengal FC wins against Gokulam Kerala- Chennai’s draw will take them to 41 points and a loss will keep them on 40 points, but East Bengal winning will take the Kolkata giants to 42 points and they will be crowned Champions.
Now it is to see what are the outcomes of the two games that would decide that fate of Chennai City FC and Quess East Bengal FC. I-League will either have a new champion or the Red and Golds will end a 15-year run of not winning the league.