AFC Cup 2019: Minerva Punjab vs Manang Marshyangdi Preview
Winless for four straight games, including the I-League and AFC Cup, marred with Stadium clearance issues and scuffles with the All India Football Federation, Minerva Punjab have not had a very good time in the last couple of months.
They began their AFC Cup Campaign with a goalless draw with Indian Super League side Chennaiyin FC and were also held 2-2 by Dhaka Abahani in their second game. Sitting third in the standings, the Warriors desperately need a win to get their Asian Campaign back on track.
Manang Marshyangdi, also are suffering a similar fate as they lost both their opening games and desperately need a win as well.
A win for Minerva Punjab will take them ahead of Dhaka Abahani to the second spot. A loss, however, will result in the I-League 2017-18 Champions hit rock bottom of the South Asian Group.
Minerva Punjab vs Manang Marshyangdi: Match Information
Date: 1 May 2019
Kickoff: 6.30 PM IST
Live Stream: No official stream/telecast in India. Third party streams during the game will be available.
Venue: Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneshwar, Odisha
Minerva Punjab have all their players available and will be taking the field with full strength.
Bhaskar (GK), Akashdeep, Kareem, Robert, Souvik, Amandeep, Al Amna (C), Chothe, Harminder, Kalif, Samuel
(W-L-L-D-D) : After winning the NEROCA FC I-League game 1-0 on 23rd February. Minerva Punjab have stayed winless. 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 took the lead against Dhaka Abahani in their second AFC Cup game but failed to hold on to it and drew 2-2 in Bangladesh.
A win is eluding the 'Warriors' and Manang Marshyangdi may provide the perfect opportunity for Minerva to get a win after more than two months.
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. He opened the scoring for Minerva against Abahani and Sachin Badhhade will hope to see more of the same.
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.
The Nepalese side, recently visited India to feature in the All India Sikkim Governor's Gold Cup where they went all the way to clinch the coveted title after they edged Army Red 1-0 in an evenly contested Final in Gangtok.
They thumped ATK Juniors 6-2 and eased past Calcutta Customs by 4-2 in an unbeaten campaign. However, after such a successful Sikkim Gold Cup run, the Nepalese side could not carry the momentum forward in the AFC Cup. They lost 0-1 at home to Dhaka Abahani and also went on to lose to Chennaiyin FC, away 2-0.
It is a must-win game for the Nepalese side and Minerva Punjab may be the easiest opponent in the Group, they could face.
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.
Eluded of a win, Manang Marshyangdi will go full force to get their first AFC Cup Group Stage Victory. The game being very important for both the sides to stay alive in Asia may finish level pegging.
Predicted Score: Minerva Punjab 1-1 Manang MarshyangdiModified 20 Dec 2019, 22:49 IST