Panchkula, Feb 25 (PTI) Out of the title race and with as many as 10 frontline players ruled out due to injuries, Aizawl FC coach Santosh Kashyap said the reigning champions have nothing to lose in their I-League encounter against Minerva Punjab here tomorrow.

Contenders Minerva Punjab, who sit on the third spot in the league table with 29 points from 15 matches, have a chance of rewriting a fairytale script the same way it was written by Aizawl FC last year when they completed a memorable title triumph.

Aizawl FC started their season well but then went through an eight-match winless run which dashed their hopes of regaining the title and also led to the sacking of coach Paulo Menezes.

On being asked to sum up Aizawl FC s season so far, Kashyap stated: I think most of the players left the club. New coach, new squad. He (Menezes) tried his best from his side but again expectations were high as defending champions.

They started well I think but later on, eventually injuries took a toll. Aizawl scored and then conceded goals in later matches. Aizawl FC are currently placed sixth in the 10-team standings.

The 51-year-old Kashyap coached some of the big clubs in the past like Air India, Mohun Bagan, Salgaocar, Rangdajied United and Royal Wahingdoh.

His last assignment, before coming to Aizawl, was with Mumbai FC in the 2016-17 season of the I-League.

When I took over the team, there were many injuries and lot of mistakes in defending, attacking and transition. So I had to make quick changes. I had to mould four sessions into one session, Kashyap added.

We almost got the positive result in my first match itself but couldn t. Finally, we got a 3-0 win over Indian Arrows. Now we are here and I think, we are improving every moment. Our main 8-10 players are out so I am taking all my youngsters. We will play attacking football. Minerva Punjab FC s chief coach Khogen Singh said that his team is focussed on the match and eyeing the title.

Tomorrow it will be a very good game as well as a tough one. Their morale is high because they have won the last match against Indian Arrows and we lost the away match against them by 2-1.

Now after defeat to Gokulam Kerala, we have to win this match in order to go for the title. We have to take 3 points. There is no pressure on us but we don t want to lose the game , Khogen said on the eve of the match. PTI AH KHS KHS KHS

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.