AFC Cup 2013 group stages are almost about to end and for two Indian clubs participating in the competition fate is sealed. Match Day 5 would have decided both the team’s future in the competition. East Bengal needed a draw to enter knockout round after the gap of long 9 years whereas for Churchill Brothers a win would have ensured berth in the knockout stages.
East Bengal Through After 9 Years.
Kingfisher East Bengal always found wanting when it comes to AFC competitions. The club, despite being one of the powerhouses in Indian football, has failed to perform well in the AFC competition. They were not able to qualify for the knockout stage in almost 9 long years.
East Bengal needed just a draw against Selangor FA of Malaysia to secure berth in the knockout stage of the tournament. East Bengal had 10 points in their kitty and a draw would have ensured them the knockout stage.
East Bengal started the match with all of their foreign players. The red and gold brigade started the match rather cautiously in first few initials minutes. The club were happy to defend against the host who were first to attempt in the 18th minute of the match.
East Bengal was happy to defend and move up on the counter. The strategy worked well for the cluband on 23rd minute of the match they scored a goal through out of form Nigerian playmaker Penn Ikechukwu Orji. A defensive blunder by the Selangor defenders helped Orji to score an easy goal.
Selangor FA, after going a goal down, pressed really hard for an equalizer. The Malaysian giants kept their cool and kept on working hard for the goal. They could have equalised in the first half itself but some shrewd defending and poor finishing kept them at bay.
Changing over, Selangor FA was once again pressing hard for the goal. The Malaysian giants were under pressure and that helped East Bengal to further extend their lead. Some poor defending from Selangor defenders helped Lalarandika Ralte to score a goal. Ralte found the ball in shooting range with Selangor FA goalkeeper out of position. The midfielder slotted the ball nicely without making any error.
After taking a 2 goal lead East Bengal decided to use some of their bench players and sub in Manandeep Singh in place of Australian Andrew Baresic. The Haryana born striker did not trouble scorers much as got marching orders from the referee for a rough tackle in the very next minute.
10 men East Bengal were put under immense pressure by the Malaysians and the hard work paid dividends. Shukor Shuzoh powerful striker found the net in the 79th minute. In the final minutes of injury time the Red Giants found the equaliser through Adib Abdul Latif. The equaliser helped Selangor stay in the hunt for the Knock out stage. With this draw East Bengal enter Knock out stages.
Churchill Brothers Crash Out Of The AFC Cup 2013
Churchill Brothers, after almost confirming the title of I-League were expected to do their best in the AFC Cup match against Kitchee SC. The almost winners of I-League needed a win to get into the Knockout stages of the competition. Their rival on the day Kitchee needed just a draw to get through the knockout stage.
Churchill Brothers fielded almost the same side which defeated Mohun Bagan in I-League with Beto missing due to injury. Their opponents had a full squad at disposal and were eager to cause trouble to Churchill Brothers.
The Red machines stared match without any vision, failing to create any clear cut chance. Kitchee SC was quick to get off the mark and took the lead on 15th minute through former Spanish junior International Pablo Couñago. The striker was again on the scoresheet just 2 minutes later, scoring his second goal of the day.
Kitchee SC continued to attack the I-league leaders and could have scored more goals in the opening half of the match. Churchill was out of ideas to stop this onslaught from the Hong Kong giants. They came close to put some pressure on rival goal keeper through Gabon international Henry but to no avail.
In the Second half Kitchee continued their dominance. Another Spanish striker Torres heaped more misery on Churchill Brothers scoring his club’s third on 57th minute. The Indian club tried to stop the flow of the goal for the next few minutes but their opponent was in no mood to stop their attacks and striker Cheng Siu Wei scored one more goal to make it 4-0 in 81th minute.
Sunil Chettri was very disappointed in this match. The Indian International where nowhere to his best and struggled to put his mark. With this loss Churchill Brothers’ dream of going into the knockout round of the competition got shattered.