The Red and Gold defeated Tampines Rovers 2-1 in an AFC Cup group stage match and need only a point to guarantee passage to the next round....Trevor Morgan has a reason to be happy. The British coach saw his East Bengal team put in another fine performance to defeat Singapore club Tampines Rovers by 2-1 to ensure that they are a point away from qualifying for the knockout stages of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.
"The first half was great. We created chances and scored the goal. However, we conceded a poor goal in the second half. Then Lalrindika Ralte scored a world class goal. He has got a fabulous left foot. I'm happy with three points. We deserved the win," remarked a clearly happy coach during the post-match conference.
The Red and Gold just need a point from their final two group games against Selangor and Sai Gon Xuan Thanh to progress.
"We need one more point to qualify. I want to pick up the point soon. Also, I know we would get to play the next leg at home if we finish on top of the group. I will surely try to do that since the travelling will add to our long fatigue," explained Morgan.
East Bengal's win had an off-field incident that threatened to ruin Morgan's plans for the game. East Bengal were due to play the game in white jerseys as their home shirt clashed with that of the Tampines Rovers clothing. Nigerians Uga Okpara and Edeh Chidi had brought only their home jerseys with them to the game. Trevor was forced to replace the duo with Raju Gaikwad and Manandeep Singh before the game.
It was learnt that club manager Manish Bannerjee had sent an e-mail regarding the use of the white kit to the club's official e-mail address. This development was not tracked by Okpara and Chidi who had only their home kits with them when they arrived at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Morgan explained that the club had informed its players to carry all three kits during AFC Cup games.
"Only seven came with all the three kits while rest turned up with only our home jersey. Since most of the players stay in and around Salt Lake, they managed to get the white jersey before the match commissioner’s verification," said the coach.
"The shirts of Uga and Chidi arrived 5 minutes after the kickoff. So, they couldn't start the game. I haven't seen such amateurish things ever. We are representing India and two of our best players had to be left out because their shirts never arrived," fumed the Englishman.
This sort of incident is not new to the Red and Gold as ahead of the Kolkatans' AFC Cup match against Sai Gon Xuan Thanh in Vietnam, midfielder Subodh Kumar had left one of his jersey's back at the team hotel. It is rumoured that the Nigerian duo will face disciplinary action for their daftness.
Chidi however was involved sooner than he expected as he replaced striker Andrew Barisic in the 15th minute who was taken off after he looked uncomfortable as he was carrying a hip injury. The Nigerian went on to score his team's first goal.
The coach was however critical of his side's defending during the game and also commented on his wish to play the remaining AFC Cup games under floodlights at the Salt Lake Stadium.
"Concentration lapses resulting in conceding poor goals. Also the goalkeeper must use his anticipation better at times. But when a player puts the ball into the top corner, we had nothing to do other than stand up and clap. I will like to play the remaining matches under the floodlights," signed off Morgan.
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