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Played
October 1, 2013 10:00 PM IST
Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium — Madīnat al-Kuwayt (Kuwait City)
Referee:‬ Hai Tan‎
Attendance:‬ 1000‎
 

Kuwait SC 4-2 East Bengal: Late flourish by Marcos Falopa's side leaves the tie interestingly poised

A thrashing seemed to be on the cards after the hosts took a 4-0 lead, but goals from Uga Okpara and L. Ralte give East Bengal a good chance at home in the second leg...

By Atanu Mitra

East Bengal F.C. vs Semen Padang : AFC Cup
East Bengal FC
Kuwait SC defeated East Bengal by a scoreline of 4-2 in the first leg of their AFC Cup semi-final tie at the Al Kuwait Sports Club stadium in Kuwait, taking a two goal lead to Kolkata.

However a late flourish by the away side leaves the game interestingly poised, as goals by Uga Okpara and Lalrindika Ralte in the 66th and 88th minute respectively, gave Marcos Falopa's side the advantage of scoring two away goals, which could still prove crucial.

Those goals followed after a brace by Issam Jemaa with goals in the 17th and 33rd minute with a 31st minute Waleed Ali Jumah goal sandwiched in-between had given the hosts a commanding lead at half-time. A howler by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu saw Chedi Hammami make it 4-0 shortly after half-time, making observers fear the worst for the Kolkatan outfit, until Falopa's substitutions changed the flow of the game.

East Bengal's coach, hamstrung by the absence of the injured Ryuji Sueoka, started with James Moga and Chidi Edeh upfront, and opted for a deep defensive line at the back, keeping in mind the threat Issam Jemaa and his teammates pose in the opponen'st box. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu started between the sticks, with Falopa keeping the faith in the custodian, even after having a nervy match last time round, behind Uga Okpara and Arnab Mondal who took their usual positions at the heart of the defense. Robert once again started in the left-back position while Naoba Singh on the other end completed the defensive quartet.

Soumik Dey was employed as a second pivot alongwith Mehtab Hossain in the middle of the pitch. Joaquim Abranches was given the responsibility of providing width down the right while Harmanjyot Singh Khabra also started in the midfield, making his first appearance in the Red and Gold jersey this season.

Kuwait SC meanwhile started with Rogerinho just behind Issam Jemaa in attack while Ali Jummah started on the left wing.

The game began at a slow pace, with both the teams trying to build-up patiently and the emphasis being on retaining possession. From the first whistle, the hosts looked a class apart as they depended on playing ground passes, quite opposite to the East Bengal outfit, who resorted to the direct route of feeding the towering strikers with long balls.

In the early minutes, both the teams failed to make any clear-cut chances, with Coutinho catching the eye for the hosts, with his elegant passing and neat one-twos played with teammates. Kuwait claimed a couple of early corners but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu gathered the resultant balls quite easily.

The first opening was made by the defending champions as Waleed Ali did well to find Rogerinho in the East Bengal box, but the latter directed his header wide from the edge of the six-yard territory. Only three minutes later it was Rogerinho, who was provided with some space by the opponents, but his shot was saved well by the East Bengal custodian.

The game was only 17 minutes old when the deadlock was broken, as Issam Jemaa took advantage of a major defensive error. The East Bengal backline made a mess while trying to trap the talismanic Tunisia striker offside. The highest scorer of the African Nations' Cup 2010 made a clever run and found himself in a one-on-one position with the keeper, with the travelling defense stranded a few yards away. He made no mistake in slotting the ball calmly into the net, gifting his side the elusive first goal.

This opened the floodgate as waves of Kuwait SC attacks started to hit the East Bengal backline, with players finding it easy to invade into the away side's box. However, it was in the 28th minute when East Bengal got their best chance of the first half, against the balance of play, as Chidi Edeh and James Moga linked up beautifully before the Nigerian found himself in a good position in front of the opponent goalkeeper but he failed to hit the back of the net, even though he got two bites at the cherry.

Only a few minutes later, Waleed Ali doubled the lead for his team after he was played in down the left flank by Jarah Al Ateeqi from the middle. Ali made a scintilating run on the left and blasted the ball home to give his side a two-goal cushion.

The hosts did not sit back and added another to their account, as Issam Jemaaa got his second goal of the day. After the initial shot taken by Sanea was saved by Gurpreet, it fell straight in the path of Jemma, who tapped it home.

Kuwait SC made it look simple, as they time and again left the East Bengal defense in tatters, and the away side must have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle, giving them a chance of rallying back and taking a breather.

The scenario though, was no different in the second half also as Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made an absolute mess of Al Ateeqi's cross from the left flapping it down into the path of Chadi Hammami, who blasted the ball at the back of the net to score the fourth goal for his side.

After conceding the fourth goal, Falopa used all his three substitutions and that changed the whole game. Baljit Sahni, Cavin Lobo and Lalrindika Ralte all were given the nod to join the action in space of a few minutes and suddenly East Bengal began dominating proceedings.

In the 66th minute, East Bengal scored their first goal as Uga Okpara rose high to nod in Ralte's flag-kick from the left, much to the ecstasy of the Red and Gold faithful present at the stadium.

Lalrindika and Cavin provided the side with much-needed mobility and ability on the ball, as they linked up well with the foreigners to create chances every now and then. A couple of long-range efforts for the away side were just off-target, with the Mehtab-led outfit enjoying more influence in midfield.

It was as late as the 88th minute, when East Bengal further reduced the margin courtesy of Lalrindika Ralte, who did well to pick the ball on the left side of the Kuwait SC box, moved it on his right foot and gave keeper Alkandari no chance of stopping his well struck shot.

East Bengal ended the game with another couple of efforts which were just wide, and will go into the second leg at Kolkata taking a lot of confidence from their performance in the second half. Kuwait SC though, still remain the favourites, but the tie is interestingly poised, as the Red and Gold gear up to host the AFC Cup defending champions at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.





AlKuwait SC

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Musab Al Kandari
Goalkeeper
 - 
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Hussain Hakem
Defender
 - 
-
 - 
-
 - 
-
Chedi Hammami
Midfielder
48′
 - 
-
 - 
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Jarah Al Ateeqi
Midfielder
 - 
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Husain Ali Baba
Midfielder
 - 
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Sami Al Sanea
Midfielder
 - 
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Rogerinho
Striker
 - 
17
Issam Jemaa
Striker
17′ 33′
 - 

East Bengal F.C.

 - 
30
 - 
29
Saumik Dey
Defender
 - 
4
Uga Okpara
Defender
66′
 - 
3
 - 
8
 - 
7
 - 
14
Mehtab Hossain
Midfielder
 - 
19
 - 
15
James Moga
Striker
 - 
10
Edeh Chidi
Striker
 - 
17

Substitutes

-
 - 

Substitutes

 - 
20
 - 
6
 - 
24
Cavin Lobo
Striker
67′

Coach/Manager

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 - 

Coach/Manager

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  • Own Goal
  • Penalty
  • Penalty Missed
  • Yellow Card
  • Assist
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  • Penalty Shootout Miss
  • Yellow Card / Red Card
  • Red Card
  • Substitution IN
  • Substitution OUT
  • Injury
  • Goal.com Rating
  • Goal.com Man of the Match
  • Goal.com Flop of the Match
  • Top & Flop Global Ranking
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  • Fans' Flop of the Match
Results
Group A Matchday 1
Times In IST
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Belencoso Belencoso
Striker
KSC
8 0
Omar Al Somah Omar Al Somah
Striker
AlQadsia
6 1
Nguyễn Văn Quyết Nguyễn Văn Quyết
Midfielder
Ha Noi TT FC
6 0
Cezar Augusto Cezar Augusto
Striker
Yangon United
5 0
Gonzalo Damian Marronkle Gonzalo Damian Marronkle
Striker
Ha Noi TT FC
4 3