Former I-League champions Minerva Punjab FC were once again held to a 1-1 draw by Nepal's Manang Marshyangdi in their fourth match of the AFC Cup 2019 Group E in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Thoiba Singh gave Minerva the lead in the 39th minute but Nigerian defender Saheed Azeez scored the equaliser for Manang in the 81st minute.
Sachin Badadhe made two changes in the Minerva starting XI which had managed a 2-2 draw in Bhubaneswar in their last game against Manang. Prateek Joshi and Amandeep Singh came in place of Mahmoud Al Amna and Akash Sangwan.
Both Minerva and Manang Marshyandgi failed to create any goalscoring opportunities during the initial stage of the match but just when it seemed the first half would end on a dull note, Thoiba Singh broke the deadlock in the 39th minute.
Things intensified at the stroke of half time when Minerva’s Prateek Joshi was sent off after a double booking, reducing the Indian side to 10 men at half time.
The home side tried to cash in on the man advantage right from the beginning of the second half but the Minerva defenders stood firm and weathered the storm.
But the Nepalese club finally broke Minerva hearts by scoring late into the game. Nigerian defender Oluwashina Saheed Azeez scored the equaliser in the 82nd minute.
Minerva Punjab registered their fourth consecutive draw in the AFC Cup 2019 and have complicated their journey in the group stage. If Chennaiyin FC win against Dhaka Abahani later tonight, Minerva will be knocked out of the competition.
Manang Marshyandgi, on the other hand, managed to secure just two points from their first four matches and are on the verge of elimination from the group stage.