Stadium Shah Alum, Malaysia
April 23, 2013
East Bengal travel to Malaysia with the hope of securing a place in the knock out phase. With 3 wins and a draw under their belt, the Kolkata giants will look to get a result which will help them to secure a spot in the next round. Trevor Morgan’s side will be looking forward to that one point which can assure East Bengal a qualification spot at the expense of most successful team in Malayasia – Selangor FA.
In AFC Cup, East Bengal is currently lying on Top of Group H with 10 points from a possible 12. Their position is further enhanced by a goal difference of +4 where as their rivals for qualification, Sai Gon Xuan Thanh and Selangor FA are their next two opponents with a goal difference of 0. This is a must win game for the Malaysians, they will be high on confidence after their 3-1 win against Sai Gon FC in their previous must win game in this group. I-League title is slowly slipping away from East Bengal, hence Trevor Morgan and Co. will be keenly looking forward to better challenge in AFC cup in the knock out stages.
Team News and Tactics
Selangor’s Malaysian Super League rivals Kelantan FA has already qualified for the knock out stages of AFC Cup. Selangor are the most successful football team in Malaysia and their pride is at stake as they are at the brink of elimination in group stages. After forming the Malaysian Super League in 2004, both Kelantan and Selangor has won two league titles already. This season both teams are finding it hard in domestic circuits as Selangor is in 3rd spot while Kelantan is far behind at the 9th spot
A victory against table leading East Bengal is likely to shift the balance in Selangor’s favour as they face relatively easy opposition in last round in the form of Tampines Rovers. At the same time the top 2 will battle against each other to make things interesting in this group. A defeat is most likely to end hopes for Selangor and even a draw wont be enough to secure a passage. Knowing that it’s a must win game Irfan Bakti Abu Salim coached side might come all out attacking against Kolkata giants East Bengal.
Selangor FA usually tries to dictate their opposition with their midfield fluidity and wing play. In a well oiled 4-2-3-1 formation, Selangor are a treat to watch and East Bengal need to be on their toes to keep the rampaging Malaysians quiet. In the reverse fixture which happened two months back, East Bengal held on to a solitary goal win at Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata. Malaysians failed to utilize the chances which came their way even-though East Bengal was the better side. Selangor will be looking for a revenge at Stadium Shah Alum and as often team in dire needs comes out with all guns blazing.
In Malaysian Super League only two foreign players are allowed but in AFC cup the limit is 4. Even though they can make use of 4 foreigners they could rope in only 3 faces for the AFC cup. Forward Francis Doe, defender Peter Chrappan and midfielder Michael Kubala are all expected to play an important role for the Malaysian outfit. When central Ramez Dayoub was suspended for match fixing charges it was Peter Chrappan who stepped up in his place. Selangor’s main threat comes down their right wing from the combination of Guruswamy and Jasuli. Kunanlal on the other flank is also a problematic source for the opposition the wing battles are most likely to determine the outcome of this match.
Probable Line-up: Allawee Ramli; Jasuli , Chrappan, Bunyamin Omar, Asraruddin; Kunanlan, Juso, Gurusamy, Zahini, Kubala; Doe.
East Bengal’s last four I-League outings resulted in draws and it is a draw which is required in the last two games for East Bengal to secure progression. Even-though they tasted 4 draws on the trot in I-League, East Bengal’s last two outings in AFC Cup were victories over Tampines Rovers. This is the 4th consecutive season for East Bengal in AFC Cup and Trever Morgan coached side will be looking to make it a memorable campaign which is usually dominated by West Asian clubs. East Bengal holds a superior record against the hosts by winning both the matches played between them (one in 1967 IFA shield).
Selangor FA are unbeaten at home in AFC cup, East Bengal are expected to test their resolve and mettle in Malaysia. East Bengal is almost out of reckoning for I-League title now with Churchill Brothers win against Mohun Bagan and will be concentrating on AFC Cup solely as the Indian Football season is coming to an end. East Bengal had a week’s rest when compared to their opponents who had 3 matches in a span of 6 days. The Red & Golds should make use of the tired legs on the opposition camp and they are expected to stretch Selangor in the second half.
Trevor Morgan’s East Bengal usually lines up in a 4-4-2 with Mehtab and Penn Orji dictating the terms. Sometimes they makes it a midfield diamond with Mehtab staying deep and Penn Orji pushes forward to support striker Barisic & Chidi. Sanju Pradhan and Lalrindike Ralte are good wingers in Indian standard and their contribution will be vital in exploiting the spaces left behind by Selangor attacks. Ralte usually chips in with crucial goals and he will be expected to share the goal-scoring burden from Chidi, Barisic and Manandeep Singh.
East Bengal has two top notch goalkeepers in Abhijit Mondal and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. It is more likely that Morgan will stick to Abhijit for this crucial fixture as his experience is expected to come handy. Raju Gaekwad is an added weapon in attack with his long throws and he is expected to partner Okpara in center at the expense of Arnab Mondal. Saumik Dey and Naoba Singh are likely to occupy the wing-back slots in pursuit of a knock-out spot. If East Bengal can play up-to their strengths then it is likely that they will return with a qualification to next round after this fixture.
Probable Line-up: Abhijit Mondal; Naoba, Okpara, Raju, Saumik Dey; Sanju, Mehtab, Penn Orji, Ralte; Barisic, Chidi
Players To Watch Out For
Francis Doe (Selangor FA)
Liberian international striker Francis Doe is on a hot run in AFC cup by notching up 4 goals and an assist in their 4 games so far. Short and diminutive forward Doe is known for his pace and ball control. In his short career so far Doe had played in Cameroon, USA, Greece and Egypt before moving to Malaysia. His experience will come in handy during the tough games and he is expected to continue his goalscoring exploits against East Bengal.
Lalrindika Ralte (East Bengal)
20 year old winger Lalrindika Ralte has been in a hot streak in this season and has scored 2 goals in this competition already. With his trickery and movement Ralte can cause trouble to any defence and Selangor FA needs to keep a close eye on the upcoming winger. Ralte was the one who settled the scores when these two sides met in Kolkata and will be looking to repeat his magic in Malaysia.
Selangor FA 1 – 1 East Bengal
Selangor FA is expected to come all out attacking against East Bengal in a must win match for the hosts. Formidable support from crowd are expected to push the hosts to taking the lead, but they have played too many matches in a short span of time and weariness might affect them in latter stages of the game. East Bengal needs just a point from this outing to qualify for next round and a late equalizer is expected from the visitors to seal progress and to complete a dramatic evening.