AFC Cup: East Bengal have a tough task ahead
East Bengal may have qualified for the semifinals of the AFC Cup after beating Semen Padang F.C. comfortably 2-1 on aggregate. But, it’s still not celebration time for East Bengal.
They have a colossal task ahead as they have to beat 2-time champion Al Kuwait S.C., who are also the defending champions, to qualify for the finals. Kuwait S.C. will be the favourites and of course the more confident side when they face East Bengal in the first leg on October 1st in Kuwait.
They will certainly be in high spirits after beating New Radiant F.C. 12-2 on aggregate, thanks to their Tunisian striker Issam Jemma who scored four goals in the the first leg and three goals in the second leg. East Bengal will really have to be aware of this striker.
Problems don’t end there for East Bengal. They will also miss the services of their star Japanese midfielder Ryuji Sueoka, who has been ruled out by an injury he suffered in the 43rd minute of their last game versus Semen Padang. Kuwait F.C., on the other hand, have to do without Yaqoub Al Taher who was red carded because of a tackle on Ali Ashfaq in the last match against New Radiant.
There is some good news for East Bengal as their South Sudanese player James Moga has returned to form with a brilliant 73rd minute goal against Semen Padang F.C. Baljit Singh Sahni also played well in the last match. But goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu really made some school boy like mistakes that resulted in Wilson’s goal in the previous match and he will surely have to improve.
However, Al Kuwait cannot take East Bengal lightly as they have talent in their ranks. Players like Edeh Chidi, James Moga, Uga Okpara, Baljit Sahni and Lalrindika Ralte can be highly influential. We can hope for a great match as these two teams compete on October 1st in Kuwait and on October 22nd in Kolkata.