AFC Cup 2019: Dhaka Abahani vs Minerva Punjab Preview
Minerva Punjab are having a bumpy ride, both on and off the pitch. The Warriors, as they call themselves have just won one of their last five games and are not in the best of forms.
They were engulfed in a fixing saga when certain reports suggested the I-League side may not have played their final league game to its true spirit. However, they did come clean out of the case.
Director Ranjit Bajaj has been at war with the Football Administration of the country, AIFF and Marketing Partners, Reliance for lack of promotion and marketing of the I-League. Things went worse for Minerva Punjab, when Odisha FA denied the Kalinga Stadium for Minerva, which was earlier the deal.
However, similar to the fixing saga, a solution may have just arrived in this scenario as well after the State FA agreed to lease out the stadium for Minerva's first AFC Cup home fixture.
Amidst such chaos, Minerva may struggle to get going in the Asian stage. Their opponents, Dhaka Abahani, on the other hand, have a knack of troubling the Indian sides in AFC Cup and the same may happen again on Wednesday.
Dhaka Abahani vs Minerva Punjab : Match Information
Date: 17 April 2019
Kickoff: 5:15 PM IST
Live Stream: No official stream/telecast in India. Third party streams during the game will be available.
Venue: Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Minerva Punjab are only in action for the AFC Cup for some time now after the Super Cup boycott. All the players are available for selection with no injury/suspension news.
Arshdeep, Akashdeep, Primus, Kareem, Souvik, Amandeep, Kalif, Al-Amna, Chothe, Prabhjot, Samuel
(L-W-L-L-D) : Minerva suffered a 0-4 carnage to Iranian side Saifa in the Champions League qualifiers before winning the Neroca game 1-0 on 23rd February. Since then, Minerva Punjab have failed to win any game. They lost to East Bengal and Chennai City at the business end of the league before salvaging a draw against Chennaiyin FC in the AFC Cup Group-stage opener.
Minerva Punjab's game revolves around their Midfield Maestro Mahmoud Al-Amna. The former East Bengal and Aizawl midfielder can brilliantly hold-up play and organise wing play. His ability to create a chance out of nowhere will be pivotal for Minerva's fortunes against the Bangladeshi side on Wednesday.
Samuel Lalmuanpuia and Chothe will play key roles up the field to create chances themselves and score as well. After the departure of Juan Quero Barraso, the onus will be on Indian forwards such as Moinuddin Khan and Amandeep Singh to find the back of the net.
Dubbed the 'Sky Blue Brigade' in Bangladesh, Dhaka Abahani are on a dream form. They are on a five-match winning run and do not look in a mood to stop at all.
They have been stream-rolling their opponents in the Bangladesh Premier League with a 3-0 win over Mohammedan, 3-1 win over Saif SC, 2-0 win over Chittagong Abahani and a 4-3 win over Seikh Jamal.
Courtesy of such comfortable margins of victory, Abahani are at second position behind Basundhara Kings in the League table.
Abahani already began their AFC Cup campaign with a win over Nepalese side Manang Marshyangdi in a 1-0 win after Masih Saighani opened the scoring. Abahani sit atop Group E above both the Indian sides and are a serious contendor to qualify out of the South Asian Group.
Abahani consist of several ex-Indian League players like Masih Saighani (Aizawl FC), Kervens Belfort (Kerala Blasters, Jamshedpur FC), Wellington Priori (Jamshedpur FC, NorthEast United) and Chizoba Sunday (Churchill Brothers). All the said names can turn the game on its head at any moment of time, making it imperative for the Chandigarh based side to remain focused throughout the 90 minutes.
Although Minerva Punjab may have won the I-League in the 2017-18 season, but the transfer extortion post their I-League triumph, especially of Bhutanese forward Chencho Gyeltshen have made Minerva Punjab a lot more vulnerable.
Dhaka Abahani, with the names they consist of, may just register their second win of their AFC Cup 2019 campaign on Wednesday.
Predicted Score: Dhaka Abahani 2-1 Minerva PunjabPublished 16 Apr 2019, 07:00 IST