[From The Archive]

The most successful Indian club side against their foreign counterparts, Kingfisher East Bengal FC, has brought a number of glorious moments for Indian football fans to treasure and cherish. This magnificent trend of performing well against foreign clubs started way back in 1948, when the club defeated Chinese Olympic XI 2-0 in a friendly match, which also marks East Bengal’s first ever exposure to the international level. The Chinese Olympic XI was not an ordinary side; it was a pretty strong team consisting of the best available talents in China, who represented the country in 1948 London Olympics. Legendary Red-&-Gold soldiers and members of the famous East Bengal Panchapandavas, Appa Rao and PBA Saleh were the scorers for East Bengal in this debut foreign victory.

This victory was a moral boosting tonic for the Indian players and it had laid the foundation for several amazing triumphs for the club in immediate and distant future. Since then East Bengal inherited an affluent heritage in producing winning results against stronger foreign club sides. In totality, East Bengal club has so far notched up 153 wins against their foreign counterparts. Among these 153 triumphs, 68 victories came in competitive matches while the rest belongs to the friendly category. TheHardTackle analyzes these 68 competitive victories and lists down the top five glorious wins in chronological order.


1. East Bengal 1-0 PAS Club, Iran – IFA Shield, 1970

It was a historic moment for Indian football. This Red-&-Gold victory is the first ever victory by an Indian club against a foreign side in a competitive match, since independence. Legendary footballer and the country’s most successful coach – P.K. Banerjee – was managing the Red-&-Gold brigade during those days and with skillful players like Peter Thangaraj, Shanto Mitra, Shyam Thapa, Surajit Sengupta, coupled with PK’s famous Vocal Tonic, East Bengal became the indomitable force in the country, clean-sweeping all major silverware.

Legendary coach – PK

Then came the 25th of September, 1970 – a magical moment,  which would leave its impression and change the face of Indian football forever. East Bengal took on Iran’s PAS Club for the ultimate glory in 1970 IFA Shield Final in a vibrant Eden Gardens stadium amidst continuous cheering by 80,000 football fanatics. In those days Iran was a Asian football powerhouse and PAS Club was the Champions of Tehran Football League in 1967 and 1968. The club consisted of many of Iran National football team’s players, who participated in Iran’s 1968 AFC Asian Cup triumph. They also had a few quality foreigners from Soviet Union, Israel, El Salvador and Morocco with previous World Cup experience.

Not even the die-hard Red-&-Gold faithful would have expected a win against such illustrious counterparts, but the brave soldiers made the impossible possible, as a late strike by Parimal Dey in the second half injury time earned East Bengal a place in Indian football history. The mood was festive and the joyous East Bengal faithfuls lit up Eden Gardens with flaming torches [“Moshal“, the club symbol] in their hands and painted Eden Gardens in Red-&-Gold abir.


2. East Bengal 3-1 Leventis United, Nigeria – IFA Shield, 1986

The then Nigerian Premier League and FA Cup Champions and 1985 African Cup Winners Cup runner-up, Leventis United, a club based in Ibadan City in the state of Oyo, was one of the strongest club sides in the African continent during those days. East Bengal was clubbed with Leventis United in one of the 1986 IFA Shield group stage matches and not even the hard-core Indian football fanatic could have imagined before the kick off that the 17th of December, 1986 would go down in Indian football’s history book as another significant milestone achieved!

The fabled Red-&-Gold defender Shyamal Ghosh was at the helm of managerial affairs in those days. He was regarded as a shrewd tactician and his tactical brilliance coupled with the inspirational leadership of Manoranjan Bhattacharya – which would eventually turn out to be his last season as a player –  motivated the Red-&-Gold brigade to produced one of their most scintillating displays of ruthless attacking football, as they demolished the star-studded and physically stronger Leventis United by a 3-1 margin. Biswajit Bhattacharya drew the first blood in this high profile match while Sudip Chatterjee and Ranjit Karmakar scored a couple more to conjure up one of the unforgettable victories in Indian football’s history.


3. East Bengal 6-2 Al-Zawra’a SC, Iraq – Asian Cup Winners Cup, 1993-94

Asian Cup Winners Cup, currently known as AFC Club Cup, was a tournament in which all the domestic league champions from AFC affiliated countries used to participate. From India, East Bengal participated in this prestigious tournament for a record 10 times. In the 1993-94 edition of the tournament, East Bengal was grouped with Iraq National League champions Al-Zawra’a SC. Al-Zawra’a was also Iraq’s FA Cup champion in the same year and they had many national players in their squad. Asian Footballer of the year 1988 – Ahmed Radhi, widely regarded as the best Iraqi player of all time, the scorer of Iraq’s only World Cup goal in the 1986 edition was the star attraction for Al-Zawra’a, in the 1993-94 Asian Cup Winners Cup.

East Bengal was considered to be the underdogs ahead of the first leg match scheduled to be played on the 6th of October, 1993, in Kolkata. However, the tables turned upside down when the two teams faced each other, as the Red-&-Gold brigade pumped in half-a-dozen goals in Al-Zawra’a coffin to notch up a memorable 6-2 victory. This win is considered to be one of the greatest victories for any Indian team against foreign club sides. One of the greatest football players of the modern generation in India, Carlton Chapman, was the main architect behind this memorable triumph, as he scored a brilliant hattrick in that match. The other three goals for East Bengal were scored by former Indian captain and legendary Bengali footballer Shishir Ghosh, Akil Ansari and Kumaresh Bhawal. For Al-Zawra’a, Mudhir Khalef Muhsim and Sahib Abbas Hassan scored the consolation goals.


4. East Bengal 1-0 Verdy Kawasaki, Japan – Asian Cup Winners Cup, 1997-98

In the 1997-98 Asian Cup Winners Cup, East Bengal hammered Tribhuvan Club, Nepal 8-0 in the home leg before thrashing them 3-0 at their own backyards to set up a second round clash against one of the strongest teams in Asia – Japan’s Verdy Kawasaki – currently re-branded as Tokyo Verdy. Verdy Kawasaki had won the inaugural edition of Japan’s J-League in 1993 and repeated the same feat in the following year. They also finished runner-up in 1995 edition of J-League.

Baichung – The East Bengal Living Legend

That was the Asian Cup Winners Cup 1997-98’s second round home match for East Bengal. Earlier in the month, Verdy had notched up a comfortable 5-2 victory against East Bengal in their home tie. The only ray of hope for Red-&-Gold brigade ahead of the all important home match was a young but skillful striker – Baichung Bhutia – who had scored a brilliant brace in the away fixture and instilled the belief among the East Bengal players that they were capable enough to produce winning results even against the very best of Asian players.  And the rest – as they say – is history, written in glorious Red & Golden letters.

The 8th of November, 1997, will always remain etched in the memory of Red-&-Gold supporters, as a gritty and spirited performance scripted a memorable 1-0 win for East Bengal against a way too superior Verdy Kawasaki side. Left full-back Samuel Omelo, who plied his trade for the Kenyan national team, scored the solitary goal of the match with a delightful header from a Baichung Bhutia free-kick.  This victory against the Champions of 1987-88 AFC Asian Club Championship [currently re-branded as AFC Champions League] is regarded as one of the best ever wins in East Bengal’s glorious history.


5. East Bengal 3-1 BEC Tero Sasana FC, Thailand – LG ASEAN Cup Final, 2003

East Bengal clinched the 2002-03 edition of Indian National Football League, which earned them an opportunity to participate in 2003 ASEAN Club Championship, held in Jakarta, Indonesia. The top-12 clubs from South East Asia took part in this prestigious competition and they were clubbed into four groups. East Bengal qualified for the quarter final stage from Group D to face  the local favorites Parsita Tangerang of Indonesia. Riding on a goal each from Baichung Bhutia and Bijen Singh, East Bengal defeated Parsita 2-1 to set up a semi final clash against the 2002 Indonesian Premier Division League Champions, Petrokimia Putra [Currently renamed as Gresik United].

The Red-&-Gold brigade with LG ASEAN Cup 2003

After the regulation time as well as the extra time resulted in a 1-1 stalemate, East Bengal prevailed in a thrilling tiebreaker by 7-6 margin. Sandip Nandy, the Red-&-Gold custodian, was the hero of the night for East Bengal as he produced two superb saves in tie-breaker. Earlier in the match, Baichung Bhutia scored the equalizer for East Bengal in the 58th minute after Petrokimia Putra took an early lead in the 23rd minute through Jaenal Ichwan.

A tougher test was waiting for the Red-&-Gold brigade in the final, as they were all set to face one of the strongest club sides in Asia, AFC Champions League 2002-03 runner-ups BEC Tero Sasana of Thailand. Going into the match, played at Gelora Bung Karno International Main Stadium, Jakarta on 26th July, 2003 – BEC Tero was regarded as the clear favourites to clinch the coveted title.

Subhash Bhowmick was the man in charge of the Red-&-Gold brigade during those days and in a great tactical move,  he started with an attacking 3-4-3 formation with Baichung Bhutia, Mike Okoro, and Bijen Singh as the three strikers upfront, supported by two attacking midfielders in Brazilian Douglas Da Silva and Alvito D’Cunha. East Bengal stunned the crowd favorites BEC Tero Sasana with sheer pace and one touch passing football. Douglas produced a gem of a performance in East Bengal midfield and provided an inch perfect, defense splitting through ball towards Mike Okoro in the 20th minute.  The Nigerian striker made no mistake, as Red-&-Gold took a surprise lead.

A moment of individual brilliance saw Baichung Bhutia doubling East Bengal’s lead just after the break. Baichung snatched the ball from BEC Tero midfielder Thanongsak Pajakkta and dodged a defender inside out before he lost his footing inside the box. However, he regained his composure, made the goalkeeper come out of position and then rounded him off to find the back of the net with a clinical right footer.

Trailing by 0-2, in a bid to restore parity, BEC Tero went all out in attack and Panai Kongprapun reduced the deficit for the Thai National League Champions in the 58th minute. However a sublime goal by Alvito D’Cunha in the 69th minute restored East Bengal’s 2 goal cushion.

After scoring the 3rd goal, shrewd tactician Subhash Bhowmick played another tactical masterstroke and brought wing half Shashti Duley in wing back position, while striker Bijen Singh settled in the role of a defensive screen as East Bengal changed their formation to 4-1-3-2 and defended resolutely for the remaining 20 minutes to ensure their first ever trophy in Asian Club level.

Baichung Bhutia was adjudged the Man of the Match in the final and the Most Valuable Player in the competition. Baichung also finished the competition on another personal high, as he topped the scoring chart with as many as 8 goals to his name. With this historic triumph, the record book of Indian football had to be re-written as East Bengal became the first ever Indian club to win a prestigious continental level tournament, on foreign soil.

  • Chandan Karmakar

    Another brilliant article Debapriya. Very informative. **Goosebumps**. Thanks a lot.

  • Somnath_Sengupta

    I wonder what is the reason behind East Bengal’s consistent performance against foreign teams…it cant just be players. Teams from different era have done it…

  • DEBJIT

    Thanks a lot..Proud to be an EB fan

  • Nishant

    amazing article!!.I did not know that EB had a defeated a very strong Nigerian team..but I do remember the verdy kawasaki game as I had seen it live on tv…verdy were one of the best teams at that time in asia..in the away match EB were trailing 0-5 at half time and in the 2nd half a young Bhaichung scored two beautiful headers to announce his presence on the international scene..I have been a Bhaichung admirer ever since!!!

  • pulok malakar

    It should serve as an eye opener for the urban youth who follow European football religiously and neglect the game in this country. Amazing write-up dude. 153 wins against foreign clubs is no mean achievement. I am sure no other club in India has ever performed this extraordinarily against foreign teams. Proud to be an EB fan.

    We need such articles to showcase the rich heritage of the game in our country, it will spread awarness and youngsters will respect the football stalwarts of India.

    Please continue publishing such articles. It’s our responsibility to make sure that this generation is aware about the likes of Gostho Pal, Aappa Rao, PK, Chuni Goswami, Shailen Manna et al.

  • What an lovely article. Really loved it. East bengal is ruling indian football since 1925. We are proud eb fans.

  • Bdnet2007

    Great article Debapriya. Thanks.

  • Kironangsu Sengupta

    Proud to be an East Bengal fan. We are the best in India. Thanks for the article.

  • Sandipan Chakraborty

    East Bengal has always performed splendidly against foreign clubs. I had read a Surajit Sengupta column in a popular Bengali magazine “Khela” that EB has a success rate of around 70% playing against foreign clubs. You could have mentioned this fact also. Requesting you to upload a picture of that 1970 IFA Shield team if you can.

    It would be appropriate to mention Top10 victories. There are a number of important wins which are not mentioned in this list. If you can come up with second part, it would be great. I would like to mention a few other glorious victories of East Bengal aprt from the 5 mentioned here –

    1. 1-0 Win against F.C. Gotheburg (Sweden) in Friendly match in 1951

    2. 3-2 Win against F.C. Cho Huang, South Korea in DCM Trophy 1974

    3. 5-4 (tri-breaker) Win against South Korea XI in IFA Shield SF 1979

    4. 3-2 Win against Nebitci Balkanabat F.C. (Turkeministan) in AFC Cup 2005

    5. 1-0 Win against Al-Ahli Sana (Yemen) in AFC Cup 2008

  • Sandipan Chakraborty

    Click on this link if you want to know more about East Bengal’s wins against forign clubs.This link has the list off all international victories in competitive matches –

    http://www.eastbengaltherealpower.com/east-bengal-football-club-records-against-foreign-club-details/id/175/East-Bengal’s-Success-against-International-Clubs-

    I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that your article is just awesome. Although it’s nothing new for me, I simply loved reading about those victories after a really long long time. Thanks a lot.

  • DEBJIT

    Actually all missed a few epic encounters :

    1. 3-3 draw against Moscow Dianamo, USSR Tour 1953( East Bengal was first Indian club to tour Europe )

    2. 3-1 win against Pyong Yong City, N.Korea, IFA Shield Final 1973

    3. 0-0 draw and then walkover from opponent, against Dok Ro Gang, N.Korea, DCM Final 1974(It included 7 players of N. Korea national team that featured in 1966 World Cup Semi final )

    4. 3-2 win against Bangkok Port Authority,Thailand, Bordoloi Trophy Final 1978

    5. 1-0 win against Sparewood Jalmatinac,Australia, DCM Final 1980

  • DEBJIT

    In 1951, FA England (The Football Association) published its annual magazine where they chose EB as “The best soccer club of India”………… In 1953, Romania Youth Festival invited EB to tour USSR & Romania as EB was regarded the best from India…….. I think, EB has more right to achieve “National Club of India” glamour than any other football club in this country………

  • Deb

    @DEBJIT – “The Best Soccer Club of India” and EB’s tour to Romania and Russia all these are covered in two other articles – please have a read –

    http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.php/an-eventful-journey-through-red-gold-trails-%E2%80%93-the-east-bengal-story-part-2/

    http://www.thehardtackle.com/index.php/an-eventful-journey-through-red-gold-trails-the-east-bengal-story-part-1/

  • Deb

    @DEBJIT – As I have mentioned in the beginning of the article, it’s about EB’s glorious WINS in COMPETITIVE MATCHES. The win against Moscow Dynamo was a friendly match. The same reason for which @Sandipan’s recommended F.C. Gotheburg win could not be included. Similarly for Dok Ro Gang, it was a draw and walkover, but we are concerned here only about WINS.

    Also Pong Yang City FC was not a very strong team in 1970s. They won their 1st national league title in 1991, before that they were just a mid-table team. Hence it was not preferred. Spearwood Dalmatinac is not a professional football club, but actually an ameture club consisting of university students in Western Australia.

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    @Sandipan – FC Cho Hung is actually more of an institutional team than a professional club. It’s actually a South Korean Bank, which plays ameture football. That’s why it was not considered in the Top-5 list.

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    While compiling the list I had a few points in mind and I selected the best 5 wins because of the following constraints –

    1. It should be a competitive match.
    2. The team should be a professional football club
    3. They should be a renowned football team in their country and the country should be a football powerhouse as well.
    4. Preference would be given to the club which was successful in their domestic football during those days.
    5. Preference would be given to away wins.

    As you guys have mentioned, East Bengal achieved a number of winning results against foreign teams. That is why it is really difficult to select the Top-5. Also, everyone is entitled to have their own preferences and reasons – right?

    Glad to know that you people liked the article. We, at TheHardTackle appreciate your comments and feedback. Do visit back for more informative articles on Indian and World football.