Substitute Mohammed Rafi struck late in the death to rescue a point for Chennaiyin FC against Minerva Punjab FC in the AFC Cup on Wednesday.

After a goalless first half at the Indhra Gandhi International stadium in Guwahati, Samuel Lalmuanpia scored in the 62nd minute to give Minerva Punjab the lead in the the Group E encounter.

Minerva took the lead on the counter against the run of play through Samuel. The Minerva No. 9 carried the ball to the edge of the CFC box before slotting it into the bottom corner past Karanjit.

Rafi, who came on for Francis Fernandes with less than 20 minutes to go, scored an equaliser in the 90th minute after being set up by Anirudh Thapa.

The second half substitute took a touch from Thapa’s cross from the left flank and blasted it into the top corner to make it 1-1. This was Rafi’s first goal of the season and third in the AFC Cup, having scored two goals for Mahindra United back in 2007.

Rafi, then, had a glorious opportunity in stoppage time to make it 2-1 from a similar opportunity, this time from a cross from the right. The striker’s right-footed volley went agonisingly high as it ended all square.

Chennaiyin (8 points) dropped to second in the table behind Abahani Dhaka (10), which defeated Manang Marshyangadi 5-0. Minerva is third in the table with five points.

CFC travels to Nepal to face Manang in a must-win encounter in the final group game a week later on June 26. Chennaiyin will also need Abahani to drop points against Minerva so as to top the group and qualify for the knockout stage.


Earlier in the game, Minerva lost its goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh in the 11th minute after he suffered a nasty collision against C.K. Vineeth in a one-on-one challenge. He was taken away to a hospital in an ambulance.