Chandigarh: Minerva Punjab FC have been invited to be part of the 121st edition of the prestigious IFA Shield U-19 Football Tournament to be played at Kolkata from 26th May to 11th June 2017. This is a historic milestone as Minerva are the first club in history to participate in the renowned tournament from Chandigarh.

The 121st Edition will see participation from the U-19 squads of 10 teams including Kingfisher East Bengal, Atletico De Kolkata and Mohan Bagan. Minerva Punjab FC have been granted direct entry along with 8 other teams and the 10th spot will be decided through qualifiers.

The IFA Shield is an annual football competition organized by the Indian Football Association, the governing body of football in the state of West Bengal, and came into existence in 1893. It is one of the oldest football tournaments in India and the fourth oldest Cup in the world. During the initial years after its inception, the IFA Shield was dominated by British army teams. However, their stranglehold over the Shield was broken in 1911, when Mohun Bagan Athletic Club became the first Indian team to win the IFA Shield by defeating East Yorkshire Regiment 2-1. That was a historic moment for Indian football, as the natives beat the Englishmen at their own game.

In the 1960s and 1970s, IFA Shield, Durand Cup and Rovers Cup were considered as the three ‘blue ribbon’ tournaments in Indian football. Over the years many foreign clubs have also been invited to play in the historic tournament. U19 and reserve sides of teams like Crystal Palace, Penrol FC, Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayern Munich have featured in the tournament.

This year only players born between 1st January 2008 and 31st December 2000 are eligible for the tournament and many of Minerva’s players from the recently concluded U-18 I-League in which Minerva qualified for the final round are expected to feature in the side for IFA Shield. Surinder Singh, Head Coach of Minerva’s Senior I-League side will lead the team, “We are confident that the boys will put up a good show, they are excited to be part of such a historic and reputed tournament!”

The winner of the tournament will be awarded Rs. 5 Lakhs where as the Runners Up win Rs. 3 Lakhs.

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