Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia
16th March, 2011 – 02:30 PM IST

After sharing points in the opening game with Thailand’s Chonburi FC in a thrilling encounter which ended 4-4, Federation Cup Champions East Bengal FC is all set to take on Indonesia’s Persipura Jayapura in an away clash in their 2nd round-robin group match on Wednesday. The points table in Group-H is all square at the moment after Persipura Jayapura held the strongest team in the group, Hong Kong’s South China, to a 1-1 draw away from home in their curtain raiser. The current situation makes this match is a very crucial one, because three points here will mean a guarnteed seat on top of the standings – well at-least for the time being.

East Bengal raced off to a 2-0 lead early in to the match only to concede 4 goals in a span of 30 minutes to trail by 2-4 by the hour mark and then staged a brilliant come back to score 2 goals in last 10 minutes to earn a point against Chonburi FC. Persipura too took the lead in the 39th minute against South China but the Hong Kong Legue Champions restored parity 20 minutes later to share the honors in Hong Kong.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Persipura Jayapura

This is their first ever AFC Cup campaign, although they are not new to the continental level having participated in the AFC Champions League last season. They are enjoying a good domestic season and are leading the league table after the 16th round of games in Indonesian Super League came to a conclusion. Their main strength lies in their attacking department which saw them score a whopping 46 goals in their domestic league campaign so far. Skipper Boaz Solossa, who scored the goal against South China, is leading the forward line by example. Veteran Rahmat Rivai and Japanese striker Park Won-Hong are more than capable of supporting Boaz in the attacking third.

The creativity in the midfield is provided by Liberian midfielder Zah Rahan Kranger while the host’s defense will be marshalled by two physically strong, big statured defenders in Nigerian Victor Igbonefo and Cameroon’s Bio Poulin. Japanese Yoo Jae-Hoon will be their first choice goalkeeper; however, considering the AC regulation of having four foreign players at the maximum in the starting line-up, Ferdianansyah may be drafted in to the team to guard the goal-mouth for the Indonesian club.

East Bengal

Trevor James Morgan will have a nearly full strength squad to choose from. Tolgay Ozbey, who had suffered a muscle pull in the match against Chonburi, has regained match fitness and is expected to be partnered by Baljit Singh Sahni upfront. Mehtab Hussain will play the role of a deep-lying creative midfielder, while Penn Orji will be given the freedom to operate from behind the two strikers. Reisangmei Vasum and Sanju Pradhan will assume the responsibility of providing width to the Red-&-Gold attack from the wings.

In defense, Naoba Singh will start at the right back position with Okpara and Gurwinder Singh guarding the central defense. Morgan has embarrassment of riches for the left wing-back position with Rahim Nabi, Ravinder Singh and skipper Soumik Dey all gunning for a place in the starting line-up. The Red-&-Golds will have the calming presence of ever-reliable Sandip Nandy under the woodwork.


Mehtab Hussain (East Bengal)

The hardworking midfielder is the main creative force behind all the East Bengal attacks. We expect him to boss the midfield battle and pull the strings of attack from a slightly deeper position in the East Bengal midfield. With his high work-rate and the tendency of tracking break to help his defenders, he is very effective in destroying opponents rhythm as well. Mehtab Hussain will be our man to watch out for in this key clash.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Persipura Jayapura 2-2 East Bengal