Semen Padang - East Bengal Preview: The Red and Gold face a tough fight to qualify for the semis
The Kolkata giants face Indonesian league front runners carrying a solitary goal advantage into the second leg in their bid to qualify for the next stage...
By Kaustav Bera
East Bengal will take on Indonesian Premier League front runners Semen Padang in the second leg of the AFC Cup quarter-final after the first leg was won by the Indian team courtesy a Ryuji Sueoka goal at the Salt Lake Stadium.
However it is a different test that awaits the Federation Cup champions in their bid to qualify for the semi-finals. East Bengal have travelled to Indonesia with a full squad bar the injured Harmanjot Singh Khabra. Their foreign quartet is raring to go with goalscorer Sueoka joined by strikers Chidi Edeh and James Moga along with defender Uga Okpara.
Marcus Falopa meanwhile played down their chances at the pre match press conference trying to rid the pressure surrounding the team as he said that they were certainly the underdogs especially with Semen Padang at full strength and going great guns domestically.
“It will be a hard match for us as the rivals are favourites as they will enjoy the benefits of home conditions. We are prepared for it and will make all efforts to enter the semi-final I expect it would be an interesting match. Although we are leading 1-0 yet we are the underdogs."
While East Bengal are yet to begin their domestic campaign, Semen Padang are going great guns in the Indonesian Premier League which is one of two competitions (the other being the Indonesian Super League) at the top tier of Indonesian football.
Having played 15 matches, they have garnered 13 wins and sit pretty at the top of the table. Their Liberian striker Edward Wilson has been talismanic, leading the scoring chart with 18 goals and the East Bengal defense will have to be wary of his threat.
As coach Jafri Sastra has pointed out, Padang are also reinforced with defender Wahyu Wijiastanto who returns to the team. Their midfield too which lacked creativity will be augmented with their returning Argentine Playmaker, Esteban who missed the previous leg due to suspension.
“Our team would also be strengthened with the return of Esteban who missed the first match due to booking.”
Sastra was however confident that even after losing the last leg, they could win the home leg 2-0 and book their place in the semi-finals.
“We will go all out to win by a margin of two goals so that we can qualify. East Bengal have some quality foreigners in Chidi Edeh,Ryuji Sueoka and Uga Okpara but we will play to win as we have home advantage."
Technical Director of the Indonesian team, Suhatman Iman however stressed the need for defensive stability if they were to have a clean sheet.
“Defense will be our main focus when facing East Bengal. There are few things we need to evaluate from the first leg. Previously, our defenders played well but the opponent could use spaces between them. We will make sure it's not happening again this time."
With East Bengal needing an away goal on the break to almost secure their progress as that would need Padang to score three goals, it is expected that Falopa will ask his team to sit back and play on the counter especially when Sastra will look to score early.
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Top 3 Predictions
Semen Padang 2-0 East Bengal F.C.
- 20.47 %
Semen Padang 3-1 East Bengal F.C.
- 15.94 %
Semen Padang 3-0 East Bengal F.C.
- 15.04 %
|AFC Cup (AC)||24-Sep-2013||Semen Padang 1 - East Bengal F.C. 1|
|AFC Cup (AC)||17-Sep-2013||East Bengal F.C. 1 - Semen Padang 0|
|24-Sep-2013||Semen Padang 1 - East Bengal F.C. 1||AC|
|17-Sep-2013||East Bengal F.C. 1 - Semen Padang 0||AC|
|03-Jul-2013||Semen Padang 2 - Persepar Palangka Raya 0||IPL|
|26-Jun-2013||Persema Malang 0 - Semen Padang 5||IPL|
|23-Jun-2013||PSIR 0 - Semen Padang 3||IPL|
|69||Jandia Eka Putra||Goalkeeper|
|5||David Ngan Pagbe||Defender|
|10||Vendry Ronaldo Mofu||Midfielder|
|-||Muhammad Nur Iskandar||Striker|
|30||Gurpreet Singh Sandhu||Goalkeeper|
|8||Thokchom Naoba Singh||Defender|