Category: AFC Cup

AFC Cup: Unlucky Minerva Punjab share spoils with Manang Marshyangdi

Bhubaneswar: Minerva Punjab very unlucky to not win the 3 points at their first home game at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

Right from the kick off, with the kind of the start Minerva Punjab had, it was clear they wanted nothing but 3 points. They were strong and aggressive from the first minuted and made their intent clear in the 9th Minute when Sreyas Gopalan scored from a rebound off the Manang’s

defender. Minerva continued to attack and making inroads but few good saves from the opposition goalkeeper didn’t let Minerva to increase the lead further.

It was nothing but pure bad luck when Robert Primus, Minerva’s centre back, was taken off due to an injury. Immediately after the substitution, Manang were awarded a penalty against the run of the play in the 33rd minute. Everyone expected an equaliser but Minerva’s goalkeeper Arshdeep made a brilliant save to deny the Manang striker from converting in the 36th minute. The first half didn’t see any more goal and the score stood at 1-0 at the half time whistle.

Minerva Punjab started the 2nd half with a clear intent of increasing their lead and closing the game. They got few good chances but failed to convert. Al Amna’s shot was blocked and Sreyas followed up with another shot which was just wide of the post in the 55th minute. Kalif Alhassan went very close with a curled shot at the outer post. Minerva were so close to scoring when they Manang scored off a low cross in the 69th minute to take the score level at 1-1.

Minerva Punjab were taken by surprise but recovered well and started pushing their opponents in their half. The constant pressure on the Manang defence led to a clear foul on Moinuddin in the 67th minute and Minerva were awarded a penalty. Kareem Omolaja stepped up and converted the spot kick to take Minerva one up with a score of 2-1 in the 86th minute.

Minerva looked certain to take home 3 points when a cross when Manang’s winger was met with a header that led to Manang’s equaliser in the 89th minute. Minerva tried everything in the last few minutes but the time was too short for them to be able to take back the lead.

With this draw, Minerva Punjab now have 3 points from 3 games and are places thired in the Group e. With 2 of the upcoming 3 games being at home, this could change fast for Minerva Punjab.

Next up in AFC, Minerva Punjab travel to Nepal to play Manang in the reverse fixture on 15th May 2019.

Minerva held by Dhaka Abahani in AFC Cup

Dhaka: Minerva Punjab were held to a 2-2 draw by Abahani Dhaka in Wednesday’s Group E encounter on Match-day Two of the 2019 AFC Cup at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka.

The match started brightly with Minerva taking the charge in early stages. Souvik Das and Mahmoud Al Amna both tested the Abahani keeper with long range shots. The visitors’ constant effort paid off in the 16th minute with Makan Winkle Chothe setting up Al Amna who stretched and finished it off in style to take Minerva 1-0 up.

Abahani responded immediately with a run down the left wing followed by a cross and a finish off the near post by Nabib Jibon to level the score at 1-1 in the 20th Minute. The home side followed it up with a shot outside the box which was brilliantly saved by Minerva’s GK Bhaskar Roy.

Minerva made a tactical change in the 38th minute, replacing Harminder Singh with Sreyas Gopalan. The change paid off immediately, with Sreyas intercepting a poor back pass and scoring a stunner from just outside the box. Minerva controlled the game well to lead 2-1 at the half time whistle.

Early in the 2nd half, Abahani were awarded a free kick just outside the box on right wing. The free kick flew over the Minervan goal keeper to hit the crossbar but only for the rebound to be converted into an equaliser by Sunday Chizoba in the 48th Minute.

Hereafter, both the teams tried for a winner but were unable to find so. Minerva’s striker Sreyas fired couple of good shots including a header which just went inches wide of the goal. Sreyas hurt his shoulder in an attempted header but continued to play on for his team.

The best opportunity of the game fell to Minerva’s Amandeep Singh in the 76th minute. Amandeep was put clear on goal, with only keeper to beat from 10 yards but shot tamely and wide off the goal to deny Minerva the opportunity to lead and go for the 3 points.

Minerva Punjab clearly made better chances but were unlucky with finishing. The match finished at 2-2 with both the teams sharing a point each. The match didn’t have a clear winner but surely entertained the fans with about 20 shots attempted on goal from each sides.

With this draw, Minerva Punjab have 2 points from two matches, though they have two away games off their back. Abahani Dhaka are placed top of the group with 4 points from 2 matches but have much tougher away matches to play.

Minerva Punjab will be playing their next game at Kalinga stadium against Manang Marshyangdi on 1st May’19, which will also be Minerva’s first home game.

AFC Cup comes to Ahmedabad, Chennaiyan FC play Colombo FC at The Arena by TransStadia

Ahmedabad, March 11, 2019: The Arena By TransStadia is proud to announce that it will be the home venue for the first ever international football match to be played in the vibrant state of Gujarat, when two-time Indian Super League champions Chennaiyin FC face Sri Lankan team Colombo FC in the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifying playoff round second leg on Wednesday March 13 2019.

Chennaiyin FC became the first Indian Super League (ISL) outfit to qualify for the AFC Cup by virtue of winning the 2017-18 ISL title. They will be looking for a win in the second leg at The Arena, Ahmedabad in order to book a spot in Group E, which comprises South Asian football powerhouses. The first leg in Colombo on Wednesday March 6, 2019 concluded in a goalless draw.

TransStadia’s released an official statement, “This is a historic moment for Ahmedabad & Gujarat to witness top-flight football. The Arena by TransStadia has been approved by the AFC given our world class facilities and we look forward to providing a wonderful match and fan expenence for both participating teams and the spectators.”

In the recent past The Arena by TransStadia has been the host venue for Kabaddi World Cup 2016, 2017 ITTF World Junior Circuit India Junior & Cadet Open (Premium), PKL Season 2017 – 18 and 2018 -19 (Gujarat Fortune Giants Home Venue) and PBL 2018 -19 ( Ahmedabad Smash Masters Home Venue ).

Chennaiyin FC, Vice President, Mr. Hiren Mody expressed the importance of the fixture “This is a very important fixture in our club’s history, as we aim to qualify for the group stages in our debut AFC Cup campaign. The Arena by TransStadia will be the venue for the same in what we hope will be a memorable occasion.”

The Chennai based team will be playing this qualifier tie against Colombo FC at The Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad, as it was not politically conducive to play a Sri Lankan opponent in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was announced by Chennaiyin FC on March 1, 2019.

Chennaiyin FC is co-owned by Mrs Vita Dani, Mr Abhishek Bachchan and Mr Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Chennaiyin FC has won the ISL in 2015 and 2017-18.

Blues go down 2-0 to Altyn Asyr in Ashgabat, bow out of Asia

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: Carles Cuadrat’s Bengaluru FC bowed out of Asian competition after a 2-0 loss (5-2 agg.) to Altyn Asyr FK in the second leg of their AFC Cup Inter-Zone semifinal, at the Kopetdag Stadium, in Ashgabat, on Wednesday. Second half goals from Altymyrat Annadurdyyev and Vahyt Orazsakhedov settled the tie in favour of the hosts after the Blues found the going tough in attack.

Earlier, Cuadrat rung in one change to the side that faced the Turkmenistan champions at home as Boithang Haokip dropped to the bench in favour of a returning Harmanjot Khabra. Rino Anto and Rahul Bheke joined Spaniard Juanan Gonzalez at the back as Nishu Kumar was pushed forward to add impetus to the Blues’ attack.

After a spell of holding fort at the back, Bengaluru pushed high up with Miku and Sunil Chhetri creating back-to-back chances with less than half an hour on the clock. While the duo’s efforts went wide, Bengaluru gained momentum and had spells of possession. Udanta Singh and Nishu, attacking from either flank, had attempts of their own, but none dangerous to trouble Mamed Orazmuhamedov in the Altyn goal.

The Blues had their best chance of the first period in the 38th minute when Miku fed Chhetri on the counter, but the skipper’s foray into the rival box was met with a strong tackle from an Altyn Asyr defender. Shouts for a penalty were waved away as referee Turki Al-Khudair chose to book the Blues’ number 11 instead.

While the first half was an even affair, the hosts struck twice early on in the second to effectively seal the tie. Annadurdyyev scored the opener in the 50th minute with a strike from the edge of the box that BFC ’keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu struggled to get his hand to.

Striker Vahyt Orazsakhedov then added another with his third goal of the tie, tapping home from close after defender Mekan Saparov’s strike from distance cannoned off the upright, making it 2-0 on the day and 5-2 on aggregate.

As the Blues kept on pushing ahead in search of the elusive goal, it was Altyn Asyr goalkeeper Mamed who pulled off two saves to keep the score unchanged. Miku, who managed to create a yard for himself, had his shot from distance palmed away in the 65th, before Chhetri’s shot was tipped onto the vertical.

The Blues return to Bengaluru, where they will prepare for the opener of the 2018-19 Indian Super League, against Chennaiyin FC, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on September 30th.

AFC Cup 2018: All or nothing as Bengaluru look to turn tide against Altyn Asyr

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: Carles Cuadrat’s Bengaluru FC are confident of climbing the proverbial mountain when they take on Altyn Asyr at the Kopetdag Stadium, on Wednesday, for a spot in the Inter-Zone final of the AFC Cup. Having suffered a 3-2 defeat at home, the Blues will need to win by a two-goal margin in the capital in what could be a comeback for the ages.

Though Cuadrat admitted that conceding three goals at home was far from the ideal scenario going into a second leg, he was confident that the late fightback at the Kanteerava has given his side belief and a chance against tough opponents. “Altyn Asyr is a good team who have been doing well in this competition. When they came to Bengaluru, they were in the middle of their league commitments and you could tell by how fit they were. They took advantage of the options they had in front of our goal. It was a bit of a shock to go down by three goals at home but we slowly took control of things in the second half and we had enough chances to put them in trouble. We have two goals that make us believe we have a shot at going ahead in this competition,” said the Spaniard while addressing the media on Tuesday.

The team from Turkmenistan didn’t have much of the ball in the first leg, but they made their reliance on the counter attack matter, with clinical finishing. Cuadrat said the early goals were a tad bit disappointing because they knew how the visitors would tackle the tie. “When you’re down a goal at home you want to get right back into it and that’s where we conceded another one on the counter attack. We have been watching Altyn Asyr’s games in the AFC Cup and we know they don’t really have a lot of possession during the game. Most games they usually have around 45 percent possession. They know they must defend well and punish the other teams on the counter. So, it wasn’t a surprise.”

The Blues will do well to be wary of the threat that the hosts possess through Altymyrat Annadurdyyew and Wahyt Orazsahedow, both of who were on target in Bengaluru. Winger Myrat Yagsyyew, who had to be substituted early in the game owing to a groin injury, remains a doubtful starter for the fixture.

The biggest positive that Bengaluru FC can take from the defeat and into the second leg is the attitude they displayed even after conceding three goals. The attack switched gears in the second half and had Altyn Asyr defending in numbers. The Blues were left feeling hard done-by after two stonewall penalty decisions were waived away by the referee. But goals from Rahul Bheke and Erik Paartalu were justice to the kind of turnaround they orchestrated.

Harmanjot Khabra, who missed the game with illness, has made the trip to Turkmenistan and it needs to be seen if he will have a part to play on Wednesday. Cuadrat also hinted at a possible rejig in the way he approaches the game and the team he rolls out. “We weren’t happy with the way things went in the first game and we would like to fix that. If it means us having to change and reshuffle, we will. In the end, we don’t have an option but to keep trying things that can keep us alive in the competition,” he said.

The winner of the tie will go on to face North Korean side 4.25 SC in the Inter-Zone final after they cruised past Singapore’s Home United FC 11-1 on aggregate in the other semifinal clash.

The game kicks off at 5 pm IST.

AFC Cup 2018: Brave Bengaluru take the fight to Turkmenistan

Bengaluru: What seemed like a tie that was done and dusted sprang back to life after Bengaluru produced an inspired second-half comeback against Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr in the first leg of the AFC Cup Inter-Zone semifinal at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday. The Blues conceded three goals, before scoring two of their own to take a 2-3 result to Ashgabat for the second leg, set to be played in seven days’ time.

With an ill Harmanjot Khabra having to sit out of the game, Cuadrat started with Rino Anto at the right-back position while Xisco Hernandez made his Bengaluru debut, playing in the middle.

The visitors couldn’t have asked for a better start away from home when Vahyt beat the last line of defence and rose to nod home Nurmyradov Selim’s cross from the right in the 11th minute.

The Blues looked almost certain of squaring things up in the 15th minute when Chhetri was picked with a precise cross from Miku. The skipper measured the flight and picked his spot with a calm header only for ’Orazmuhamedov Mamed to clear the ball with an outstretched left foot.

Just when Bengaluru looked like getting back into the game, Altyn Asyr got a second through Altymyrat in the 24th minute. The leading scorer of the Turkmenistan side’s AFC Cup campaign, Altymyrat managed to sneak in a low but powerful hit past Sandhu at the near post.

Not allowing the deficit to kill their resolve of a fightback, Bengaluru gave the Altyn Asyr defence an edgy last ten minutes in the first half where Miku, Chhetri and Nishu had chances stuffed out by desperate blue shirts in the box.

Things slipped further for Bengaluru soon after the second half began when Vahyt got his second and Altyn Asyr’s third goal of the night. Sandhu had an uncharacteristically weak moment allowing Vahyt’s to roll past from under him.

With little to lose, Bengaluru kept plugging away as Udanta Sigh made life difficult for Altyn Asyr’s men on the left. The visitors seemed happy to sit back and defend in numbers as Bengaluru moved the ball all around, prodding for an opening. The Blues finally got one back in the 63rd minute when Bheke smashed home from in the box. Chhetri’s header from Udanta’s cross smashed the post only to bounce back to Bheke who wouldn’t miss.

The goal breathed fresh life into Bengaluru’s charge as they got into a rhythm that Altyn Asyr found tough to handle. The defending was frenetic at best but just enough to keep Miku, Udanta and a host of white shirts at bay.

Bengaluru were left feeling hard done when they thought they had two shouts for what looked like legitimate penalties, turned down by referee Iida Jumpei. But the Blues piled on the pressure, finding a second through Erik Paartalu. With Xisco’s initial cross headed out of the Altyn box, Udanta picked up the pieces and swung in a second that was nodded home by the Aussie.

The Blues fly to Ashgabat, where they will take on the Turkmenistan champions on August 29th, at the Kopetdag Stadium.

AFC Cup 2018: Big-ticket game as Bengaluru take on Altyn Asyr in Inter-Zone semifinal

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC will hit the ground running when they begin life and the season under new coach Carles Cuadrat with a high-stakes AFC Cup Inter-Zone semifinal against Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday. The Blues, who are attempting to qualify for the semifinal of the competition for a third straight time, are up against a side that knocked out last year’s finalists in FC Istiklol and are yet to lose a game in this edition.

Cuadrat, who took over the mantle from mentor Albert Roca before the start of the season, said he was confident that a gruelling pre-season in Spain would come handy for a stage and an opponent like this. “We played some very tough teams in Spain and while results didn’t go our way, I feel the experience has prepared us well for both the home and the away legs of this fixture.”

The Blues who faced off against Atletico Saguntino, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, Villarreal B and Barcelona B in Spain, had their defence tested heavily in the second halves of the final two games.

Bengaluru will be buoyed by the inclusion of talismanic striker Miku who has been registered for the competition in his second season with the club. The Venezuelan had a twenty-goal year playing the ISL and the Super Cup and the Blues will hope he picks up from where he left off.

The game could also mark the debut of Spanish midfielder Xisco Hernandez who joined the Blues this summer, while Rino Anto could be in the reckoning in what is his second spell with the club. Cuadrat will however be without Harmanjot Khabra who is down with chicken pox. “It’s strange that we had two cases of chicken pox, but that’s what it is. While Gurpreet has recovered, Khabra will miss this game,” Cuadrat informed. Also missing the game with minor niggles are Sairuat Kima and Robinson Singh.

The visitors on the other hand will be banking heavily on the strike duo of Altymyrat Annadurdyyev (6 goals) and Murat Yakshiyev (5 goals) who have combined for eleven of seventeen goals scored in the group stages. While there have been six more goalscorers, the pair will be the prime focus for the Bengaluru defence tomorrow.

It needed drama and a little luck on the last day of the league stages for Bengaluru to secure a spot in the knock-out stages. The Blues needed to beat Abahani Dhaka while hoping that fellow-contenders New Radiant would drop points against Aizawl FC. The script played out perfectly for the Super Cup champions as they hammered Abahani and Aizawl shocked New Radiant with a 2-1 win.

Equally dramatic was Altyn Asyr’s passage to the Inter-Zone semi-final as they snatched the top spot from FC Istiklol (Tajikistan) in the final moments. The Turkmenistan champions were away to Istiklol, who were two points ahead going into the final round. The Tajik-side, who got better off Bengaluru in last-year’s Inter-Zone final, levelled scores at 2-2 in the 90thminute only to be denied by an injury time winner from Altyn Asyr’s Mihail Titow to send them through to the knock-out stage.

The game kicks off at 8.00 pm and will be live on DSport.

Bengaluru FC announce squad for 2018 AFC Cup knock-outs

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC announced their 30-man squad for the 2018 AFC Cup knock-out rounds on Friday, as Carles Cuadrat’s men gear up to take on Turkmenistan’s champions Altyn Asyr FK in the first leg of the inter-zone semifinal, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, on August 22.

The squad which returned from a two-week Spanish tour regrouped at the Bengaluru Football Stadium on Friday ahead of their big game next week. “We have returned from a very satisfying pre-season tour of Spain and it all builds up to two important AFC Cup games we will be playing in the span of a week. The boys have done everything we asked of them over the last one month. Now is about being competitive and giving our best shot in these games,” said Cuadrat who is set to take charge for the first time in a competitive fixture for the Blues.

Bengaluru who clinched the South Zone title for the second successive season in dramatic fashion are up against Group-D champions Altyn Asyr, who in similar manner toppled last-year’s runners-up FC Istiklol Dushanbe from Tajikistan to seal their berth in the knockouts.

Miku, who netted a staggering twenty goals last season, was not named in the squads for the preliminary and play-off as well as the group stages of the competition, but is set to feature for Bengaluru FC on the continental stage for the first time. Joining him are Juanan Gonzalez and Erik Paartalu (Asian player) who have been the mainstay in the squad along with new signing Xisco Hernandez as the overseas players.

While Dimas Delgado misses out due to an injury sustained in Spain, Cuadrat is hopeful Xisco will provide the flair in his absence. “A muscle injury meant we had to take the tough decision of leaving Dimas out. Xisco, who replaces him, has some good qualities and provides a good option for us. He has been working hard during the pre-season and has blended in quickly,” added Cuadrat.

Keeping faith in youth, Cuadrat has also named thirteen boys from Bengaluru FC B – twelve of whom played in the 2nd Division League last season while six are graduates from the U18 side of the BFC Residential Academy. Four of those six featured for the club in the U18 Youth League last season as well, while the duo of Namgyal Bhutia and Naorem Roshan Singh plied trade for Indian Arrows in the I-League on loan from the Blues before returning for the 2nd Division League campaign.

The Squad

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Soram Poirei, Aditya Patra

Defenders: Juanan Gonzalez, Rahul Bheke, Harmanjot Khabra, Sairuat Kima, Rino Anto, Nishu Kumar, Asheer Akhtar, Gursimrat Singh Gill, Biswa Darjee, Rakesh Oram

Midfielders: Xisco Hernandez, Erik Paartalu, Robinson Singh, Bidyananda Singh, Boithang HaokipKean Lewis, Altamash Sayed, Ajay Chhetri,Naorem Roshan Singh, Namgyal Bhutia, Lalengzama Vangchhia, Myron Mendes, Leon Augustine

Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Thongkhosiem Haokip, Miku, Udanta Singh


Blues regroup for pre-season as AFC Cup challenge continues

Bengaluru: Super Cup champions Bengaluru FC kicked off the first leg of their 2018-19 pre-season with an open training session at the Bangalore Football Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Saturday. All seven new signings – Kean Lewis, Rino Anto, Sairuat Kima, Gursimrat Gill, Soram Poirei, Chencho Gyeltshen and Xisco Hernandez – along with retained players put in a shift under the watchful eyes of newly appointed Head Coach Carles Cuadrat.

The Blues begin their competitive season with a two-legged AFC Cup Inter-Zone semifinal clash against Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr FK and Cuadrat says the challenge ahead is one he is looking forward to.

“I’m very happy to be back. When you see the kind of supporters we have and the hard work that goes into the club, you feel proud to be part of it. We have a long preseason now and we will do our best to prepare ourselves for the Asian challenge. We’re aware about the quality of the opponents at this stage of the competition and that we need to be at our best going into the start of the campaign.”

While Cuadrat took to the field as Head Coach for the first time ever, skipper Sunil Chhetri became the first player to enter a sixth season as part of the club.

“It’s a great feeling to be back on the pitch. We’ve had some time away from the game to refresh ourselves and everyone is now very enthusiastic for the new season. There are a few new signings in the squad and with more time at our hand this time around, we want to be better prepared for the knockout stage of the AFC Cup,” said Chhetri on the sidelines of the first session.

The supporters turned up in numbers to create an atmosphere as the Blues introduced Assistant Coach Gerard Zaragoza, who has experience at Lekhwiya SC, Torpedo Kutaisi, Locomotive Tblisi and RCD Espanyol. Zaragoza’s most recent stint came as assistant to Michael Laudrup at Al-Rayyan SC in Qatar. Joining Zaragoza as part of the newly appointed backroom staff was Goalkeeping Coach Cristian Patru, formerly of FC Dynamo Brest in the Belarusian Premier League.

The Blues head to the BFC Residential Training facilities in Bellary on Monday, before travelling to Spain for the second leg of their pre-season.

AFC Cup: Bengaluru face Altyn Asyr FK in Inter-Zone semifinal

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: South Zone champions JSW Bengaluru FC were drawn to face Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr FK in the 2018 AFC Cup Inter-Zone semifinals, at the AFC club competitions draw, held in Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday.

While the Sree Kanteerava Stadium is set to host the Turkmenistan side on August 22nd, the reverse leg of the tie will be played at the Sport Toplumy Stadium, in Balkanabat, on August 29th.

Having qualified for the competition as the Turkmenistan Yokary Liga champions in 2017, Altyn Asyr made their way to the Inter-Zone semifinals with a thrilling 3-2 last round win over 2017 finalists FC Istiklol from Tajikistan, who incidentally got better off the Blues in the inter-zone final in the last edition. Currently fourth in the Yokary Liga with four games in hand, Altyn Asyr will be a strong opponent for Bengaluru who will be led by a new coach after the club announced Roca’s departure last week.

Should the Blues get past the Turkmenistan side, they will be up against one of DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC and the ASEAN Zone tie winner between Singapore’s Home United or Philippines’ Ceres Negros, an identical clash from the last edition.

Earlier club CTO Mandar Tamhane was presented with the South Zone Champions trophy by AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John having topped Group-E for the second successive season. Bengaluru qualified for the knockout rounds of the tournament for a record fourth consecutive season after toppling Maldives’ New Radiant SC to the summit of Group E.