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AFC Cup: East Bengal vs Kitchee SC - Match preview

Match preview from the East Bengal-Kitchee SC match in the AFC Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium

East Bengal vs Kitchee SC

East Bengal host Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC on Tuesday for an exciting AFC Cup encounter at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium. East Bengal had lost their previous game against Johor Darul Ta’zim a couple of weeks back by an embarrassing margin 4-1. They would look to turn things into their favour in this home game. They look a much better side now after their win against Dempo SC. Eelco Schattorie will miss a few key players, who have joined the national side for an International friendly.

Kitchee SC has had a good start to their AFC Cup campaign defeating Balestier Khalsa 3-0. They would like to keep their good run going and procure a point, at the very least, from this away tie.

Venue

Yuba Bharati Krirangan or the Salt Lake stadium, as it is commonly called, is a multi-purpose stadium located in the city of Kolkata. It is the biggest stadium in India and second biggest in the whole of Asia, boasting of a capacity of 1,20,000. The capacity has been reduced to 68,000 after the installation of bucket seats.

Kick-off

March 10, 2015: 6:00 pm – India (IST)

Starting XIs (Probable)

East Bengal (4-3-1-2): Abhijeet Mondal; Deepak Mondal, Milan Susak, Gurwinder Singh, Robert Lalthuama; Shylo ‘Mama’ Malsawmtluanga, Mehtab Hossain, Joachim Abranches, Mohammad Rafique; Ranti Martins, Dudu Omagbemi

Eelco Schattorie will stick to his 4-3-1-2 formation against Kitchee for the crucial AFC Cup tie on Tuesday. He will be missing the services of Lalrindika Ralte in midfield, as the Mizo has national team commitments to fulfill. Abranches is probably going to replace Didika in the left midfield position. The rest of the team is likely to remain same, who recently thrashed Dempo by 5 goals.

Likely formations

Kitchee  (4-3-3): Wan Zhenpeng; Tsang Kam To, King Fung, Huang Yang, Emmet Chun Wan; Kim Tae-Min, Fung Ngan, Lam Ka Wai; Jordi Tarres, Xu Deshuai, Belencoso.

Kitchee’s Spanish manager Jose Francisco Molina will be looking forward to register a victory to move up in the group table. He is likely to persist with his 4-3-3 formation which won his team the previous game against Balestier Khalsa 3-0 three weeks back at home.

Key Battles

Juan Belencoso

Juan Belencoso vs Milan Susak

Spanish striker Juan Belencoso is in a blistering form. The Spaniard has already scored 18 goals this season for Kitchee SC, and he is expected to be the main threat for the East Bengal defenders led by Milan Susak. Pairing with compatriot Tarres, Kitchee’s attack force looks formidable and dangerous. Under the leadership of Susak, East Bengal defenders will have to keep them under strict vigilance to avoid yet another embarrassment.

Ranti Martins vs Tsang Kam to

Ranti Martins

The Nigerian goal machine of East Bengal is in sublime form right now. Ranti Martins single-handedly destroyed Dempo SC in the I-League a few weeks back. He has scored 10 goals so far in the league and was also the solitary scorer in their previous AFC Cup game against Johor. With Dudu expected to start alongside him, the Nigerian duo is the Indian outfit’s best hope to get a positive result from the game.

Prediction

East Bengal 1-1 Kitchee SC

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