PANCHKULA: Defending champions Minerva Punjab kicked off their campaign by playing out a goal-less draw with Churchill Brothers in the I-League on Sunday.
The two sides split points at the end of 90 minutes, in a match characterised by many missed chances and a lack of imagination in attack.
Churchill Brothers gave a good account of themselves while Minerva showed glimpses of what they are capable of in the second half, but both teams failed to break the deadlock at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium.
Irish UEFA Pro license holder Paul Munster, Minerva’s newly appointed technical director and coach Sachin Badadhe, chose to go in with an attacking formation with Nigerian Philip Njoku and the young and talented Souvik Das as wing backs in front of a three-man deep defense led by Ivorian Lancine Toure.
Akash Sangwan and the mercurial Nongdamba Naoren, also their under-22 start of the day, were played as attacking left and right wingers. William Opoku Asiedu and Manandeep Singh were the target men upfront.
Churchill also had a new coach for the season in Romanian Petre Gigiu and he opted for a more conservative 4-4-2 formation with Trinidadian Willis Plaza and and Gambian Dawda Cessay upfront with a four-man midfield led by Ugandan Khalid Aucho and Richard Costa at its heart.
amgoulen Hangshing was their under-22 pick in midfield and the youngster impressed in the game with his technique and vision before he was replaced early in the second half.
James Kithan was preferred in goal and the four-man backline was led by the likes of Lebanese Hussein Eldor and Mohanraj.
Minerva started from left to right of the field in their now familiar deep and light blue stripes while Churchill were in all red.
The Goan side however had the better of the exchanges in the first half, led by good performances by Dawda Cessay in particular who was the most enterprising, as well as Aucho and Hangshing in midfield.
In the 90th minute, substitute Uttam Rai had a golden chance to win it for the away side but his volley went straight at the keeper.