I-League 2018/19: Aizawl FC vs Minerva Punjab FC| Match Preview, Venue, Date, Start Time & Where To Watch Details
Aizawl FC, the only team from the NorthEast to have ever lifted the title, are currently struggling in the ongoing I-League season and have failed to find the rhythm they would have hoped for.
After going 2-1 down in their first match against Shillong Lajong, Aizawl managed a 2-2 draw against Mohun Bagan (thanks to a 93rd-minute stunner from David) and a 0-0 stalemate in the NorthEast derby against Neroca FC. Gift Raikhan and his troops will be disappointed about not getting a win against Neroca as they had the better chances on the day but failed to capitalize on them.
On the other hand, Minerva Punjab faced Churchill Brothers in their inaugural match of the I-League 2018-19 campaign and it ended in a 0-0 stalemate. However, the shocking moment came when the Warriors faced I-League debutants Real Kashmir FC in their second match and lost 0-1.
Chencho Gyeltshen was Minerva's top scorer in the previous I-League season with 7 goals. The Bhutanese striker was also the league's joint 3rd top scorer and got the 'Best Forward' award. The former Champions are certainly missing his services after he made a move to ISL team Bengaluru FC.
In a bid to overturn their fortunes, Minerva roped in Nigerian attacker Donatus Edafe and Defensive Midfielder Bala Al Hassan Dahir. It remains unclear if the two players will be available for the match against Aizawl but the fans will hope they are -- so a turnaround of the ongoing conditions may be orchestrated.
Minerva are lacking the firepower in the final third despite playing well in the midfield. Japanese striker Yu Kuboki is recovering from injury and that is hampering Minerva's chances and they are yet to open their goalscoring account this season.
The match between Aizawl FC and Minerva Punjab is sure to be a cracker as it is the clash of two of the latest I-League champions. While Aizawl lifted the coveted trophy during the 2016-17 season, the Punjab-based franchise won it last time around.
Aizawl are currently at the 9th position in the table with 2 draws and one loss from their 3 matches adding up to a total of just 2 points whereas Minerva are positioned rock bottom at 11th place with 1 point but have played just two matches so far.
Both the teams will be rearing to get their first win of the season to clinch the 3 points and push towards the upper end of the I-League table. The bouncy turf of the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium gives Aizawl the home advantage in this one and Minerva Punjab players will hope to adapt to it quickly.
Aizawl FC vs Minerva Punjab: Match Information
Date: 10th November 2018
Kick-off: 2:00 PM IST
Live Streaming: Star Network and Hotstar, Jio TV
Venue: Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Mualpui, Salem Veng, Aizawl, Mizoram
Last two meetings
27/12/2017 (Hero I-League 2017-18): Aizawl 2-1 Minerva
26/02/2018 (Hero I-League 2017-18): Aizawl 0-2 Minerva
Aizawl FC: D D L W L (Average)
Minerva Punjab: L D L W L (Poor)
Aizawl (4-4-2): Gurpreet Singh (GK), Govin Singh, Kareem Omolaja, Vanlalduatsanga, Hmingthan Mawia, David Lanrinmuana, Bektur Talgat Uulu, Alfred Jaryan, Albert Zohmingmawia, Ansumana Kromah, Lalkhawpuimawia
Minerva Punjab (4-4-2): Bhaskar Roy (GK), Souvik Das, Lancine Toure, Arshpreet Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Philip Njoku, Amandeep Singh, Akash Sangwan, Nongdamba Naorem, William Opoku Asiedu, Alexander Kouassi Kouame
Minerva Punjab FC
Paul Munster's troops have not found the back of the net even once in their previous two matches and these are worrying signs for the gaffer. After Chencho's departure, the onus of getting the goals rested upon William Opoku Asiedu.
However, the Ghanaian midfielder, who scored 5 goals for the Warriors last time around, has failed to fire all cylinders so far. The 21-year-old youngster will look to inspire his team by putting up a strong performance against Aizawl and start to get things going for them.
27-year-old striker Chinadorai Sathyan Sabeeth will also hope to bring his experience to the fore in the upcoming match and get his name on the scoresheet. He was brought on as a substitute in the last two matches and will hope to get more playing time in the upcoming encounter.
David Lalrinmuana scored a peach of a goal from a set piece in added time in the all-important match against Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan. It can undoubtedly be called the best goal of the season so far. Gift Raikhan will hope that the goal gave the 25-year-old midfielder a lot of confidence and he can take it forward in the upcoming match.
The Mizoram-born player would also hope that he does not let his coach and his team down and lives up to the expectations he set for himself. He may be given more playing time (or even a start) in the coming match as he also has the ability to float in regular balls from the flank.
Ansumana Kromah scored the solitary goal for Aizawl in the match against Shillong Lajong. The 26-year-old Liberian forward will play a crucial role in the next match against Minerva Punjab. It will be crucial for the NorthEastern club that he finds form.
Lalkhawpuimawia, who scored the first goal for Aizawl in the match against The Mariners, is another man to watch out for as he is looking in great touch. Even their Kyrgistani midfielder Bektur Talgat showed a lot of promise in the last match against Neroca and can cause a lot of problems for the Warriors' defenders.