AFC Cup 2019: Wasteful Chennaiyin FC held to goalless draw by Minerva Punjab in opener


In a clash of two Indian clubs, Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Chennaiyin FC were held to a goalless draw by I-League side Minerva Punjab FC in Group E of the AFC Cup 2019 on Wednesday. 

It was the two-time champions Chennaiyin who created much of chances in the game held at the TransStadia Arena in Ahmedabad, but their wastefulness in front of the goal meant that the two sides split the spoils in their AFC Cup opener.

It was Chennaiyin who opened brightly in the all-Indian clash with early chances falling for India international striker Jeje Lalpekhlua and Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto within the first 20 minutes.

In the 21st minute, Thoi Singh’s wayward cross from the right troubled Minerva goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh, but the custodian did well to tip the ball over the goal for a corner kick.

Former I-League winners Minerva grew into the game and had their first effort on goal in the 26th minute when Nigerian attacker Kalif Alhassan tested Chennaiyin shot-stopper Karanjit Singh from distance. 19-year-old Makan Chothe once again produced a save from Karanjit three minutes later as the visiting side enjoyed a good spell around the half hour mark.

The teams headed into the interval with the score goalless and the second half began with the sides passing the ball around in the midfield. First clear chance after the break came in the 59th minute when Tondonba Singh headed a cross from Thoi Singh across the goal when he should have at least made the keeper work.

Chennaiyin attacker C K Vineeth tried to win the game of his own as the game reached its dying embers, but the former Kerala Blasters man had a day to forget in front of goal as his finishing let him down on multiple occasions.

As a result, the teams settled for a point each in their opener. However, Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory would be the more frustrated of the two managers having seen his side dominate most of the proceedings.

Abahani Dhaka go top with win over Manang

Bangladesh club Abahani Dhaka went top of the Group E standings with a win over Nepali side Manang Marshyangdi earlier in the day.

In the game held at the ANFA Complex in Nepal, Masih Saighani scored the only goal of the game in the 28th minute.

Chennaiyin will now hosts Manang Marshyangdi in their next AFC Cup encounter on April 17 while Minerva travel to the Bangladeshi capital to face Abahani on the same day.