AL NEJMEH (LEBANON)
KINGFISHER EAST BENGAL (INDIA)
Sports City Stadium, Beirut
17th March 2010 @ 9:30 PM IST
Kingfisher East Bengal will take on Lebanese Premier League Champions Al-Nejmeh in their second AFC Cup Group-D match later tonight. India’s Federation Cup Champions, having lost their opening encounter against Al-Ittihad of Syria, will look to open their points account in this away tie. On the other hand, Al-Nejmeh will hope to register their first win of the tournament, after the opening stalemate against Kuwaiti National League Champions Al-Qadsia.
KINGFISHER EAST BENGAL:
Form Guide: DLLLWW
East Bengal recovered well from the 1-4 defeat against Al-Ittihad, in AFC Cup opening encounter, to hold current I-League Leaders Mahindra United to a 1-1 draw in the round-16 of I-League. In both the matches, the Red & Gold brigade played some entertaining football, but the lack of finishing cost them dearly. Coach De Ridder must have to address this issue immediately, if they want to make a mark in this AFC Cup campaign. De Ridder’s strategy not to use the width of the wings to float in long balls, has drawn much criticism from the pundits, as well as supporters in India. But a firm believer of Spanish football philosophy, De Ridder will hope to silence his critics, with the trademark sleek passing inside opposition box.
The bad news for the Kolkata Giants is that their talismanic striker and Indian football icon, Baichung Bhutia, has picked up a hamstring injury, and will not be available for this crucial encounter. Captain Rahim Nabi is also uncertain for this match, but he is travelling with the team to Beirut. In all possibilities, Abel Hammond will start upfront with his Ghanaian strike partner Yusif Yakabu, while Sanju Pradhan and Alvito will share the responsibilities at the wings. Mehtab is a certainty in the starting line-up, and Harmanjot may partner him in the middle of the pitch. The back four will remain unaltered, with Okpara-Mehraj as the Center back and Nabi-Nirmal as the wing back. Abhra Mondal is expected to keep the goal for the men in Red & Gold.
Form Guide: DDDDLW
The current holder and seven times defending Champion of Lebanese Premier League are in deep trouble at this moment. They have not won any of their last five matches, and their coach has been shown the door because of the pathetic run in this year’s national league. They will be without any coach for the crucial encounter against East Bengal, and the absence of an experienced strategist can hurt them badly. Their dressing room can be compared to a mini hospital, with quite a few injury concerns. All in all, the 2001 AFC Best Club award winners are in a spot of bother ahead of their second AFC Cup match.
Their captain and playmaker Abbas Atwi is confident of a good show from the home side. Senegalese striker Makeene Dyoob is the main hope for the home fans. Ali Nasseredine and Papa Cisse can also come up with sizzling performances on their day. Moussa Gueye is a rock in the defense of Al-Nejmeh.
Al-Nejmeh 2 – 2 Kingfisher East Bengal
TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Abel Hammond, Sanju Pradhan (East Bengal), Makeene Dyoob, Ali Nasseredine (Al-Nejmeh)