Unbeaten yet without a win so far, former I-League champions Minerva Punjab will need a victory to remain afloat when they take on Manang Marshyangdi Club of Nepal in their AFC Cup group match here on Wednesday.
Minerva are yet to notch up their first win of the AFC Cup, having played out three consecutive draws in as many matches.
The 2017-18 I-League champions are third in Group E with three points and another draw or a loss will severely dent their chances of advancing to the next round.
Chennaiyin FC are leading the group with seven points while Abahani Dhaka are second with four points. Manang are at the bottom of the four-team group with just one point.
All the four sides have played three matches each so far and only the top team from the group will make it to the the Inter-Zonal Play-off Semifinals.
The two sides had played out a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Bhubaneswar and Wednesday's match at the ANFA Complex will be crucial for both Minerva and Manang.
Minerva need a win to be in contention for a next round berth while a loss will more or less send them out of reckoning.
The situation is even worse for Manang as they need nothing less than a win to remain afloat. They will be out of reckoning for a next round berth if they lose on Wednesday.
In the last match between the two sides, Minerva squandered their lead twice, allowing the Nepalese side to come back each time. Shreyas Gopalan put Minerva ahead early on but Manang Marshyangdi equalised in the second half through Abhishek Rijal.
Minerva did manage to take the lead again through a spot kick courtesy Kareem Omolaja but Oluwaunmi Somide scored seconds after to restore parity.
The Punjab side, still searching for its maiden victory in the AFC Cup, has failed to win a game in its last five official appearances. Manang may look the weaker side of the two but they have the home advantage and may spring a surprise on Wednesday.
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