Dhaka, April 17 (UNB)- The 6-time Bangladesh Professional Football League champions Dhaka Abahani Limited split points with Indian I –League champions Minerva Punjab in a 2-2 draw in their 2nd Group E match of the AFC Cup 2019 at the floodlight Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Wednesday.
Nabib Newaz Ziban and Sunday Chizoba Nwadialu scored one each for the traditional sky-blue Dhanmondi outfit while skipper Mahmoud Al Amna and Sreyas Valiyaveettu Gopalan scored for touring Indian side Minerva Punjab.
The day’s other Group E match between Chennaiyin FC of India and Manang Marshyangdi Club of Nepal was in progress at the time of filing this report, goalless after 41 minutes.
Abahani which are very much serious for a victory against Minerva Punjab for their dream first-ever 2nd round berth of the prestigious Asian meet after beating Nepalese champions Manang Marshyangdi Club 1-0 in group opener in Kathmandu on April 3, made a consolation draw to keep their top slot in four-team group intact with unbeaten run.
Minerva Punjab, which won just four matches from 19 encounters in the I-league 2018-19, started their AFC Cup 2019 campaign with a goalless draw against compatriots Chennaiyin FC at the Arena Stadium in Ahmedabad, also on April 3.
In the day’s match at BNS, Minerva Punjab took 1-0 lead in the 16th minute. Syrian skipper Mahmoud Al Amna netted the first goal for the Indian team, utilizing a cross of forward Lalmuanpuia Samuel (1-0).
But rampant Abahani continued their attacks and got a quick-relief in the 19thminute. Local boy Nabib Newaz Ziban levelled the margin for the Dhanmondi outfit from an exceptional pass by Haiti-recruit Kervens Belfort (1-1).
Punjab booters recovered quickly and came back soon into the game. Both of the teams continued their attacks. Abahani missed several chances to double the score.
In the 42nd minute, a misstep by Abahani defenders handed another success to Punjab. This time, forward Sreyas Valiyaveettu Gopalan, who replaced midfielder Harminder Singh in the 40th minute, doubled the score for his side (2-1).
Abahani then got second success in the 48th minute. Nigerian Sunday Chizoba Nwadialu levelled the score for the hosts from a direct free-kick by veteran defender Waly Faisal (2-2).
However, this was the first ever meeting between Dhaka Abahani and Minerva Punjab in AFC Cup. Abahani, won one of the six home matches in the AFC Cup, may register their second victory.
Dhaka Abahani First XI: Shahidul Alam Sohel (GK & C), Raihan Hasan, Nabib Newaz Ziban, Waly Faisal, Sunday Chizoba Nwadialu, Masih Saighani, Kervens Belfort, Wellington Priori, Rubel Miya, Sohel Rana, Md Atiqur Rahman Fahad
Minerva Punjab First XI: Bhaskar Roy (GK), Omolaja Nurain Kareem, Mahmoud Al Amna (C), Kalif Alhasan, Lalmuanpuia Samuel, Robert Primus, Akashdeep Singh, Souvik Das, Makan Winkle Chothe, Harminder Singh, Amandeep Singh
Remaining Group E Fixture of AFC Cup:
April 30: Chennaiyin FC vs Dhaka Abahani- 7:30 (BST)- India
May 1: Minerva Punjab vs Manang Marshyangdi Club- 6:30 (BST)- India
May 15: Dhaka Abahani Ltd. vs Chennaiyin FC- 7:00 (BST)- Bangladesh
May 15: Manang Marshyangdi Club vs Minerva Punjab- 3:00 (BST)- Nepal
June 19: Dhaka Abahani Ltd. vs Manang Marshyangdi Club- 5:45 (BST)- Bangladesh
June 19: Minerva Punjab vs Chennaiyin FC- 6:30 (BST)- India
June 26: Minerva Punjab vs Dhaka Abahani Ltd.- TBC- India
June 26: Manang Marshyangdi Club vs Chennaiyin FC- TBC- Nepal