Kingfisher East Bengal completely outplayed Myanmar Champions Yangon United in AFC Cup Round of 16 match in Kolkata. Much was expected from two of the undefeated teams in AFC Cup group stages but East Bengal proved too hot to handle for the visitors. Hosts dominated from the start and the match ended with the biggest scoreline in this round of fixtures at continental level. As the 5-1 scoreline indicates the match provided terrific entertainment for the Lal-Holud brigade who were looking to put their disappointing 3rd placed finish in I-League into bed. Star striker Edeh Chidi was the hero of the night with a brilliantly taken hattrick!

East Bengal outplayed Yangon United in every departement

Yangon United were unbeaten in AFC Cup 2013, but they had to settle for second spot based on goal difference and were pitted against Group H leaders East Bengal. Visitors were dealt a heavy blow before the quarterfinals as they were without 5 of their defenders for the tie against East Bengal.  Their enforced defensive reshuffle didn’t came to the rescue as their unbeaten campaign was under severe threat with East Bengal taking the game to Myanmar champions right from the start. Aussie Michael Kvetkvoski had a huge task in hand marshaling an inexperienced defence against fresh legs of East Bengal’s attacking firepower.

East Bengal's AFC Cup hattrick hero Chidi Edeh

East Bengal’s AFC Cup hattrick hero Chidi Edeh

East Bengal fielded a completely different side against Yangon United from the one that played against Shillong Lajong. Hugely sought after manager Trevor James Morgan, got the advantage for resting his players at the weekend as the Lal-Holud brigade shifted to top gear right from the word go. All the four foreigners were fresh and raring to go and it was star striker Chidi Edeh who ran riot at the Myanmar Camp. East Bengal scored 5 goals past a hapless Yangon United side deprived of their regulars.

Ishfaq Ahmed was the only surprise starter for East Bengal as captain Sanju Pradhan was fit enough only to make the bench.  Arnab Mondal regained fitness to pair Uga Okpara at the heart of defence. Once again, it was experienced campaigner Abhijit Mondal guarding the posts, who got the nod ahead of youngster Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. The usual suspects filled rest of the vacant positions and East Bengal fielded all four of their foreigners in the starting line-up which isn’t possible in I-League.

East Bengal starting line up V Yangon United

East Bengal starting line up V Yangon United

It didn’t take long for the hosts to open the account. Edeh Chidi raced to  byline to the right hand side, shielding his marker and putting a dangerous cross into the box which was met by an acrobatic Penn Orji who found the back of the net in the second minute itself. East Bengal focused their attacks on their right hand side and according to the script the basic pattern for the first goal was repeated in the remaining 4 goals as well. First goal provider Edeh Chidi turned scorer for the second one as he put the ball into the net after some good work by Andrew Barisic on the right hand side.

Mehtab Hussain increased the lead after the restart and Edeh Chidi put the matters into bed with two calmly placed finishes. Even though Cezar Augusto pulled a goal back in the 79th minute, the tie was beyond Yangon United’s reach by then and East Bengal completed the formalities without troubling the scorers again.

Yangon United’s Adame Kone, who had an impressive campaign so far by notching up 9 goals in 6 outings was  restricted to a mere spectator by East Bengal’s defence. Kone was a regular goalscorer for Yangon United but East Bengal not only cut short his supply but also his effectiveness in winning the aerial duels. 

It was a professional display from East Bengal to book the quarterfinal berth in some style. By scoring 5 goals, they registered the maximum number of goals in 2013 AFC Cup Round of 16 fixtures. The quarterfinals will be held as a two legged fixture in September and by then the most of the I-league teams are expected to field a new look side. Even though changes are expected in the East Bengal line-up before  the next round, none of the teams will be happy to book a date with them in the next round. Such was the authority and domination of the Kolkata giants that they deserve all plaudits coming their way. Can East Bengal create history in AFC Cup by bringing home the continental trophy? Only time will tell.