Yuva Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata
September 17, 2013
The focus will be clearly on the hosts to perform out of their skin to make use of the intimidating atmosphere in Salt Lake Stadium to gain an advantage in the first leg. East Bengal are getting themselves ready for the new campaign under new coach Marcos Falopa, while the visitors are in the middle of their domestic campaign and are performing as a well oiled machine. The lack of match practice and competitive fixtures may haunt the Kolkata side who have rebuilt their squad in summer following the departure of successful coach Trever James Morgan and a few key players. East Bengal maintained an unbeaten record so far in the campaign and will be welcoming the Indonesian side who got the better of I-League champions Churchill Brothers in AFC Cup group stages.
Marcos Falopa coached side has made a good start in Calcutta Football League by notching up 8 goals in their two outings. But the quality of opposition they faced there will not be the same as the Indonesian Champions Semen Padang FC, who holds a 8 point lead in their domestic league. The weight of expectations are high on the Kolkata side, who are looking to book a spot in the semi-finals at the expense of IPL champions.
Experienced custodian Abhijit Mondal is expected to guard the post instead of young goal keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Wing backs Naoba Singh and Saumik Dey are automatic pick ups for Marcos Falopa and they will be looking to impress the national team coach Wim Koevermans about their abilities in this marquee fixture. Indian Football team defender Arnab Mondal is doubtful for the clash and its an area of concern for Brazilian tactician Marcos Falopa. He is expected to choose between Raju Gaekwad and Gurwinder Singh to partner Uga Okpara at the heart of defence if Arnab fails to make it to the starting eleven.
Midfield will be an area of concern for the tactician after the departure of Penn Orji to Mohammedan SC. His replacement Ryuji Sueka isn’t completely fit and is not expected to make it to the starting eleven. East Bengal’s midfield lynch-pin Mehtab Hossain is expected to be partnered by the hardworking and versatile Harmanjot Khabra at the center of the park at the expense of Reisangmei Vashum. New arrivals Joaquim Abranches and Shylo Malswamtulunga increases the competition for places in wings. It is expected the young prodigy Lalrindika Ralte will keep his place on the left while Abranches might get the nod on the right ahead of Cavin Lobo. The presence of Abranches will also makes it easy to switch between formations as he is comfortable playing as a forward as well as a midfielder.
East Bengal supporters will be buoyed by the addition of Sudanese striker James Moga to their strike force. His partnership with Edeh Chidi will be something the fans will be looking forward to. If the duo can complement each other in attack, East Bengal strike force will become very difficult to deal with.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Abhijit Mondal, Naoba Singh, Uga Okpara, Gurwinder Singh, Saumik Dey; Joaquim Abranches, Mehtab Hossain, Harmanjot Khabra, Lalrindike Ralte; Edeh Chidhi, James Moga.
Semen Padang, the front runners of Indonesian Premier League visit India for the second time this season with their hopes sky high. In their earlier visit they secured an impressive 2-2 draw against I-League champions Churchill Brothers even in the absence of their star striker Edward Wilson Junior.
The Jafri Sastra coached side will have the psychological and physical advantage over their rivals as they are in the middle of their domestic campaign, that too in fine form. Goalkeeper Fakhrurazzi has taken over the mantle as club’s numero uno goalkeeper and will have the tough task of returning home with a clean sheet. He will be shielded by Ardiles and Wijastanto at the heart of defence flanked by Novan Setya and Maulana. The back 5 has been a consistent force for the Indonesians and it effectively rules out the involvement of David Pagbe from the start.
Semen Padang’s midfield is known for their creativity and short passing game. Argentine Playmaker Esteban Vizcarra will be the danger man for the Kolkata giants. He is most likely to start from the left flank while skipper Elie Aiboy will take his favoured position on the right. The duo will interchange the position in between the match to make life more difficult for East Bengal defence. The defensive midfield pairing of Yoo Hyun Goo and Vendry Mofu will come against Indian midfield maestro Mehtab Hossain and it will be an interesting battle to watch out for. Vendry Mofu also posses the knack of scoring vital goals from midfield, and East Bengal needs to keep a close eye on him to gain an advantage in the match.
Semen Padang team will be inspired by their mercurial goal scorer Edward Wilson Junior, who is expected to torture East Bengal defence in Kolkata. Even though striker Titus Bonai is overshadowed by star striker Edward Wilson Junior, one cannot rule out him making a telling contribution in this match. His recent form might earn him a starting spot if coach decides to field a 4-4-2. If Sastra opts for a more defensive minded 4-4-1-1, then Bonai will have to make way for an additional midfielder while Vizcarra will step up to take the key #10 position to unlock the opposition defence.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Fakhrurazzi; Hengky Ardiles, Wahyu Wijiastanto, Novan Setya Sasongko, Saepuloh Maulana; Elie Aiboy, Yoo Hyun Goo, Vendry Mofu, Esteban Vizcarra; Titus Bonai, Edward Wilson Junior
Player To Watch Out For
Uga Okpara (East Bengal)
East Bengal had the best defensive record in I-League last season, which propelled them to third spot in I-League and to the quarter finals of AFC Cup. The rock solid back four of Naoba Singh, Uga Okpara, Arnab Mondal and Saumik Dey played a key role in their defensive success. Inevitably all eyes will be on East Bengal’s defence when they takes on Indonesian side Semen Padang in AFC Cup quarter finals on Tuesday. The visitors main threat will come in the form of tournament top scorer Edward Wilson Junior and East Bengal defence will have to play out of their skin to keep the Liberian forward under their pockets. In the absence of Arnab Mondal, Okpara will have to take the responsibility of keeping the danger-man away from goal.
Edward Wilson Junior (Semen Padang)
The Liberian striker is the leading marksmen in AFC Cup this year and has already notched up 9 goals in this campaign. He was strongly linked to East Bengal’s arch rivals Mohun Bagan in this transfer window, and he will be looking forward to impress the crowd with his superior goal scoring abilities. Edward Wilson Junior possess impressive goal scoring record during his 5 year tenure at the Indonesian Premier League. It will be an interesting battle between Okpara and Wilson, which is most likely to decide the outcome of the match.
East Bengal 1-1 Semen Padang
Even though Sastra is targeting to get the better of East Bengal on both the ties, it will be a tough task for the Indonesians in-front of the thousands roaring for an East Bengal victory. The artificial turf is something which the visitors are not used to, so its another area where the home team can exploit the opponents weakness. The match looks evenly poised at the moment, even though Semen Padang are better prepared for the battle, home conditions and a deadly strike force of the Lal Holud brigade might even it out for the home side.