On paper, East Bengal are the overwhelming underdogs in their AFC Cup semi-final against Kuwait SC as they need to overturn a two-goal deficit from the first leg.
Kuwait SC are the defending champions and expected to progress to their third straight final after winning 4-2 in Kuwait three weeks ago but citing an example from the past, East Bengal coach Marcos Falopa reminded ahead of Tuesday’s second leg in Kolkata that upsets happen in football.
“No one wins before the game and upsets happen in our sport. I remember the 1996 Olympics when no one gave Nigeria a chance against Brazil but eventually it was the African nation that emerged victorious and eventually won the tournament. So we are going to fight till the very end and give our best tomorrow,” an upbeat Falopa opined at the pre-match press conference on Monday.
The game Falopa was referring to was the semi-final where Nigeria defeated Brazil 4-3 thanks to a brace from Nwankwo Kanu. So which East Bengal player has the potential to have a similar impact as the former Arsenal player? Falopa answered promptly, “James Moga”.
The 64-year-old admitted that his team will be playing for the pride of India tomorrow and is optimistic of causing an upset.
“It is a very important match for us tomorrow as we are playing for the pride of not only East Bengal but India as well. My boys have prepared well and are ready to give everything for our fantastic supporters,” he said.
Falopa paid tribute to the quality of Kuwait SC but pointed out that his team’s familiarity with Salt Lake Stadium’s artificial turf could give his side an edge.
“Kuwait SC are a very strong side and have three or four very good players like Brazilian Rogerinho and Tunisian striker Issam Jemaa. They are very skilful but we have studied them and will try our best. Playing on the artificial turf is a slight advantage for us but let’s not forget that a good side like Kuwait SC can adapt to any situation. However we will try to make the most of our familiarity with the turf,” he concluded.Published 21 Oct 2013, 19:27 IST