AFC Cup 2019: Chennaiyin, Minerva play out goalless draw

Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Kalif Al Hasan and C.K. Vineeth missed good chances to win it for their sides as the first leg of the AFC Cup between Chennaiyin FC and Minerva Punjab FC ended in a 0-0 draw.

C.K. Vineeth spurned multiple chances in the second half to put Chennaiyin FC ahead.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Chennaiyin FC and Minerva Punjab FC played out a goalless draw in the AFC Cup on a hot and arid Wednesday night at The Arena Stadium in Ahmedabad.

The opening match was supposed to be one of the telling fixtures in Group E where the Indian clubs are favourites. Only one can progress out of the group, which also features Abahani Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Manang Marshyangdi (Nepal), and neither Minerva nor Chennaiyin has a head start after a match that offered very little.

Chennaiyin, which played in its away kit despite this being its home fixture, saw more of the ball in the first 15 minutes but failed to capitalise on it. An intended cross from Thoi Singh almost dinked in at the far post but Minerva goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh was alert enough to palm it out.

Both sides struggled to move the ball into the final third, but Minerva grew into the game midway through the first half. Kalif Al Hasan’s shot from outside the box at the end of a well-worked move was the first shot on target of the game.

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Soon after, in the 29th minute, new signing Samuel Lalmuanpuia got another shot on target, shooting from a similar range. Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh was kept on his toes but made two routine saves.

The away team piled on the pressure towards the end of the half. In the 42nd minute, Al Hasan’s free-kick missed everyone in the middle of the box and landed at the feet of Samuel at the far post. The striker couldn’t sort his feet out quickly enough to get a good shot at the Chennaiyin goal.

Minerva Punjab was also profligate in the box which resulted in a drab draw.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

Thoi Singh had a sizeable opportunity to put Chennaiyin in the lead in the 60th minute. Tondonba Singh whipped in a cross that found Thoi at the back post but his header went straight across goal.

Chennaiyin brought on Anirudh Thapa whose introduction raised the tempo and boosted creativity in midfield.

C.K. Vineeth found himself on the end of a few chances as well but his shots barely tested Arshdeep - one was straight at him and another, a volley from inside the box went wide. In added time, Thapa drove through the midfield and passed it to Vineeth who made a mess of it in the box, summing up Chennaiyin’s night.

Chennayin FC will next play NorthEast United on Saturday in the Super Cup.

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