Minerva Punjab, Chennaiyin FC likely to play AFC competition home matches at TransStadia, Ahmedabad
What's the story?
Last season’s I-League and ISL champions Minerva Punjab and Chennaiyin FC will most likely have their AFC cup home matches at the TranStadia Arena in Ahmedabad. Minerva Punjab will play in the AFC Champions League play-off round first while Chennaiyin will start from the preliminary stages of the AFC Cup.
In case you didn't know...
AFC competitions require clubs to play at venues that match the standards of the Asian Football Confederation, which is why a number of clubs have played their Asian matches away from their home venues.
Last season, Aizawl FC had played their Asian matches at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati, while the likes of Mohun Bagan had also had to shift to the same venue in 2016, when the Salt Lake Stadium was under construction, and they were playing their domestic home games at the Barasat Stadium.
The heart of the matter
There were some reports about Minerva playing their home matches at the Guru Gobind Singh stadium in Jalandhar but it seems that they will be playing in Ahmedabad after positive talks with the TranStadia management. Chennaiyin FC had a team of delegates inspecting the ground last week and they are expected to make an official announcement soon.
Both the sides will be making their debut in continental stage this season and have already started preparations for the new challenge. Minerva Punjab have replaced I-league winning coach Khogen Singh with his assistant Sachin Badhande while they recently announced the appointment of former Linfield player Paul Munster as their Technical Director.
Chennaiyin FC have not had to endure such an exodus of talent and will have John Gregory, who was recently adjudged as the Coach of the Year at the All India Football Coaches (AIFC) event, as their head coach. He will be assisted by fellow Englishman Paul Groves who worked as the first-team coach at Birmingham City recently.
Chennaiyin have made a host of signings which include Tondonba Singh, former Jamshedpur FC goalkeeper Sanjiban Ghosh and a trio of Mizo players for the new season. Chennaiyin secured the ISL title last season after beating Bengaluru FC in the final game.
It will be fascinating to see how these two sides fare in the continental competitions this season. Minerva have a new coach and a new team almost so there are doubts as to how prepared they would be ahead of the AFC Champions League qualifiers which are going to be a tough test for the I-League champions. Chennaiyin FC will look to mount a strong challenge as the first ISL club representing India in AFC Cup this season.
After Aizawl FC, Minerva Punjab are set to become the latest Indian team to play in the AFC Champions League qualifiers. Can they beat all the odds and become the first team from the country to make it to the group stage of Asia's premier club competition? Lut us know what you think in the comments.