Issues related to the non-availability of their home match venues sorted for the time being, former I-league champions Minerva Punjab would look to notch up their maiden win in the AFC Cup when they take on Abahani Limited Dhaka on Wednesday.
Minerva qualified for the AFC Cup on the basis of winning the 2017-18 I-League but they had a forgettable outing in the just-concluded season, finishing second from bottom with only four wins from 19 matches.
Their Group E match against the Bangladesh Premier League holders at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Wednesday will be their second match in the AFC Cup, following a goalless draw against Indian Super Cup champions Chennaiyin FC in their opening game.
Not only they struggled on the pitch, Minerva also had issues off the field as they could not get venues to host their home matches.
Odisha government withdrew its initial permission to allow Minerva to host their May 1 ‘home’ match against Manang Marshyangdi Club of Nepal at Kalinga Stadium. Minerva’s request to the state chief minister bore fruit as the state government gave the permission later.
The Punjab-based side will still search for the venues to host their two other group matches – against Chennaiyin FC (on June 19) and Abahani Limited Dhaka (on June 26).
Minerva coach Sachin Badadhe said his side have come here with good preparation and are fully focused on the AFC Cup fixture.
“We are ready to play in any situation because it is football where you can go through ups and downs. It is part of football and we came here to secure full points,” Badadhe was quoted as saying by the local media.
“We have a strong midfield even though we have been working more on attacking and finishing. We studied Abahani and have a clear idea about each of Abahani’s players. They (Abahani) secured full points against Manang, so they are a strong side,” Badadhe said.