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Chennaiyin FC gear up for AFC Cup group stage opener

Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 

Two-time champions will begin their maiden AFC Cup group stage campaign with an match against Indian rivals here on Wednesday.

Chennaiyin became the first ISL side to enter the AFC Cup group stage after getting the better of Sri Lanka's in South Zone qualifying play-off on 1-0 aggregate last month.

scored the winner for Chennaiyin in the second leg here after the first leg had finished goalless. The Mizo striker, who is the senior-most in the Chennaiyin squad, has two goals in his last two appearances, having also netted in the club's 2-0 Super Cup round-of-16 win over FC last week in Bhubaneswar.

Chennaiyin are also boosted by the return of from a along with who was also out of action.

Ganesh got some valuable game time in the win over Mumbai City, having come off the bench in the second half. Ganesh and Jerry are integral additions to Chennaiyin's defensive setup, that has kept three clean sheets in their last three games in all competitions.

The CFC backline will be motivated to add to that tally when they take on Minerva. The CFC's young full-backs Laldinliana Renthlei and Tondonba Singh have also put in confident performances, with the latter having assisted two goals in the last two games which included Jeje's winner against

"The team morale and confidence are high. We are raring to go for the AFC Cup group stage. It is important to get off to a good start against Minerva, who we will not underestimate," said at the pre-match press conference.

"Our boys have been great defensively with the attack too getting back among the goals, with Jeje (Lalpekhlua) and CK (Vineeth) combining well. And to have Dhanpal (Ganesh) and Jerry (Lalrinzuala) back has only improved the atmosphere in the camp."

Along with Chennaiyin, this will also be Minerva's maiden group stage campaign in the AFC Cup.

Minerva come into the group stage after defeat to Iran's Saipa FC in the AFC preliminary round in February.

The 2017-18 champions have recently made loan signings of from Shillong Lajong FC and Nigerian defender from Aizawl FC.

The Punjab side have also brought in defender ahead of the AFC Cup group stage campaign. Interestingly, CFC midfielders and Germanpreet Singh may feature against their former club, having played for in 2016-17 season.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 02 2019. 20:15 IST