Francouse Al-Hareeri Stadium, Arbil

10TH April, 2012, Kick-off 20:30 Hrs IST

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Runners up of Iraqi Premier League – Arbil SC play hosts to the runners up of I-league -East Bengal in the return leg of their AFC Cup Group B encounter on Tuesday evening at the Francouse Al-Hareeri Stadium. The Iraqi club will have the momentum coming into this match as they got the better of East Bengal in their first group clash last week, thanks to goals in the last quarter of the match at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Team News And Tactical Brief:

Arbil SC:

Arbil left it late last week but one expects them to go on full throttle from the very first minute on Tuesday evening in the home leg. Last year semi finalists – Arbil picked up their first win of the group stage against the Indian club at the Salt Lake Stadium and would be hoping to notch up their second in front of their home supporters. Iraqi internationals Luay Salah and Saad Atiah – both of whom missed the first match due to injuries will most likely start on the bench and will be used by their coach Nizar Mahrous only in case of an urgency. Their Syrian midfielder Abdelrazak Al Hussain will be the biggest threat for the Indian outfit as he literally toyed with the Indian defense once Arbil acclimatized to the conditions in the second period.

Radhi who opened the scoring for Arbil is expected to start up front with Almas and Mustafa in the three man frontline. Mahrous is expected to field in the same midfield as they have already taken the measure of the Indian club. Saad Abdul-Amir alongside Al Hussain will most likely be controlling the pace of the game from the middle. Defender Ivan Bukenya and Ahmad Ibrahim will form the backbone of the defense up ahead of their skipper Sarhang Mohsen who will be standing between the goalposts.

East BengalFC:

The biggest news coming out of East Bengal’s camp is that their British head coach Trevor Morgan along with their Australian star striker Tolgay Ozbey will not be traveling to Iraq for the fourth round of 2012 AFC Cup clash against Arbil SC.

“According to the travel advisories issued by the British and Australian governments, Morgan and Ozbey can go to Iraq only at their own risk. Obviously, they are reluctant to travel and in such a scenario we can’t force them as their safety and security are at risk,” ~ said East Bengal club secretary Kalyan Majumdar.

East Bengal’s assistant coach Ranjan Chowdhury will be the stand in manager for this fixture in the absence of Trevor Morgan.

Still searching for their first win of the campaign, the Kolkata based side will need to dig in deep, as a loss here will leave them with no chance to progress to the next stage of the AFC Cup. Baljit Sahni will most likely replace the Aussie striker for the Tuesday evening clash. The players of Red and Gold must be ruing the missed chances from their home leg against Arbil and would really want to come up with an exceptional performance in order to get a positive result from this tie; besides the technically superior Iraqi team they will also have to deal with the 28,000 plus home support which will make their task even more cumbersome.


It is now or never for East Bengal


Mehtab Hossain, who came on as a sub, did not have a influential presence against Arbil at the Salt Lake Stadium but with the talent at his disposal, he is expected to be fielded against Arbil tomorrow again. This is only East Bengal’s second away game of the group stage. They were completely outplayed in their first away match against the Kuwaiti side Kazma who are leading the table at the moment.

This will most certainly prove to be yet another challenging clash for the Indian club but the fact that they were able to hold on to last year’s semi finalist for almost three quarters of the match, last week will definitely act as a moral booster for the visitors.

Expected Starting Line-up: Sandip (GK), Nirmal, Gurwinder, Okpara, Soumik, Mehtab, Khabra, Vasum, Penn, Baljit, Robin.


TheHardTackle’s Players To Watch out For:

Abdelrazak Al Hussain
(Arbil SC)

Robin Singh (East Bengal FC)


TheHardTackle’s Prediction:

Arbil SC 3-0 East Bengal