Friendship and Peace Stadium Kuwait
20th March, 2012
East Bengal fresh from their IFA Shield triumph, will take on Kuwaiti side Kazma ,at the Friendship and Peace stadium in Kuwait, in their second group game of the AFC Cup. East Bengal narrowly went down 0-1 to Yemeni side Al Orouba in their previous encounter and will be looking to make amends when they face off against Kazma in what will be their first away AFC Cup tie of the season.
Team News and Tactical Brief
There is some bad news for East Bengal, with the likes of Mehtab Hossain, Naoba Singh, Reisangmi Vashum and Sushant Mathew all not be traveling with the team on account of injuries. While Naoba, Mehtab and Sushant were injured in the IFA Shield campaign for the Red and Golds, Reisangmi Vashum was injured while on national duty in the AFC Challenge Cup.
East Bengal gave a good account of themselves in their previous game against Al Orouba. They narrowly lost 1-0 and enjoyed plenty of ball possession but could not translate the possession into goal scoring opportunities. Incidentally, that was their first home loss in the AFC Cup in two years. They had drawn all their home games in the last edition.
“I was disappointed with the refereeing, especially the incident that led to the awarding of the penalty, But otherwise, I was pleased with the performance of the team because we dominated the exchanges. The players weren’t able to translate that into goals in the attacking third of the field.” – Trevor Morgan after the match.
Veteran Alvito D’Cunha has made a comeback to the Red and Gold squad and has traveled with the team to Kuwait city. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who had an outstanding game against Prayag United in the IFA shield final, who was voted the Man of the Match following his two penalty saves, will start between the posts. Naoba Singh will be replaced by Nirmal Chhetri on the right. Uga Okpara, Gurwinder Singh and Robert Lalthalma will make up the defense. Trevor Morgan will miss the services of Mehtab Hossain at the centre of the park. The mercurial midfielder also missed the opening match against Al Orouba. Penn Orji and Harmanjhot Khabra will be the anchor men in midfield, while Sanju Pradhan and Khan Thang Paite will play on the wings. Tolgay Ozby and Edmilson Marques will be the likely strikers
Kazma Sporting Club
Kazma on the other hand will feel confident after their 1-1 draw against Arbil in the hostile environment of Iraq. That the Kuwaiti side went to the den of their political arch rivals and secured a point, which was a testament to the spirit of the Kuwaiti’s. Kazma’s Ivory Coast midfielder Mouhoube Somain is a doubtful starter after he suffered a muscle strain in Iraq.
“We are looking to win against East Bengal on Tuesday as this match is really important for us and it will play an important role in our campaign in the competition, Any team that is looking forward to advancing to the knockout stages must at least win their home matches and this means that this game is important for us. We had a good start in the competition and I’m confident that we can get the three points from this next match.” - said Milan Macala, Kazma’s coach who has also coached previously the national teams of Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.
Kazma though were lucky to come away with a point in their game in Iraq. Although they took the lead 18 minutes before the end courtesy an Hamad Al Harby strike, they conceded the lead six minutes later settling for a point away. They had to thank their goalkeeper who made a fine save with ten minutes remaining.
“We did well and managed to get a good point and I personally think that this is a satisfying result for the two teams especially because we didn’t know much about Arbil. We missed good chances to score, especially in the first half, while Arbil also played well and I believe that the draw was good for the two sides” said Milan Macala after the draw against Arbil.
One wonders how Trevor Morgan will approach this game especially since East Bengal- currently second in the I-League and six points behind leaders Dempo- have a crucial domestic game against defending champions Salgaocar on Sunday. This game could prove to be an unnecessary distraction for the Red and Golds.
Thehardtackles’ players to watch out for : Ahmad Al Harby (Kazma), Penn Orji (East Bengal)
Thehardtackle’s prediction : Kazma 3-0 East Bengal