Kuwait SC coach Marin Ion has refuted claims that his team underestimated East Bengal in the first leg of the AFC Cup semi-final. The defending champions were leading 4-0 after 48 minutes but allowed the Indian side to comeback and score two away goals.
At 4-2, the semi-final tie is still very much alive and Ion commented ahead of the second leg in Kolkata on Tuesday that his players will have to remain focused throughout the game.
“Both teams knew about each other even before the first leg so we were not surprised by East Bengal’s comeback. It is going to be a very interesting and difficult match for both sides. I am confident that my players will have full concentration for the entire game. It will be a pleasure playing in front of a packed stadium tomorrow,” Ion stated at the pre-match press conference.
East Bengal still have a perfect home record in the AFC Cup with five straight wins and one of the main reasons behind it has been the visiting teams’ unfamiliarity with Salt Lake Stadium’s artificial turf and Romanian Ion admitted that his side are also not used to it.
“We are not used to playing on artificial turfs but some of our players who are internationals have a bit of experience. I am confident that we will adapt and that two days of training on the artificial surface will be enough for our preparation,” he said.
Kuwait SC are overwhelming favourites to reach their third straight AFC Cup final but the former defender opined that his team are not feeling any additional pressure.
“The pressure is not only on us. We are proud to be the defending champions and know exactly what is required in the second leg after winning 4-2 in the first so there is no extra burden on the players,” he concluded.Published 21 Oct 2013, 20:27 IST