It was a game of few opportunities with strikers on both sides misfiring.

Indian sides Chennaiyin FC and Minerva Punjab shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw to start their respective 2019 AFC Cup Group E campaigns with a point each on Wednesday.

The hosts, making their debut in the competition’s group stage, dominated possession throughout and threatened their opposition on numerous occasion, but Jeje Lalpekhlua and company lacked concentration in front of goal.

Chennaiyin made their intentions clear with an early string of attacks, most notable was Eli Sabia’s header which somehow missed the target from close range eight minutes in.

Kalif Al Hassan responded with Minerva Punjab’s first chance, testing the goalkeeper from range, but Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh made the save.

Chances were few and far between for the remainder of the first half, but Samuel Lalmuanpuia came close for the visitors half an hour into the match. His effort from distance looked destined to the top corner, but Karanjit was again quick to the rescue.

A physically intense first half looked to have taken its toll on the players of both sides as play was limited to the middle of the pitch.


Karanjit was called to action 10 minutes after the restart as Moinuddin Khan tried his luck from outside the box. Thoi Singh had a golden chance for Chennaiyin but failed to find the back of the net with his header from inside the six-yard box at the hour-mark.

With both sides unable to find a break, even five minutes of added time could not separate them as the final whistle announced both would start their campaign with a point.

Chennaiyin are at home again in two weeks for the visit of Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club, while Minerva Punjab travel to Bangladesh where they face Dhaka Abahani Limited in the other April 17 encounter.