The Red and Gold brigade will face the Indonesian club in the last 8 of the continental tournament...In a draw held at the AFC House in Malaysia, East Bengal shall face Indonesia's Semen Padang FC in the quarter-finals this September.
The other teams who had made it to the quarters are Al Faisaly (Jordan), Kitchee (Hong Kong), New Radiant (Maldives), Al Shorta (Syria), Al Qadsia and Al Kuwait (Kuwait).
The draw came as a blessing for the Kolkata club as they were certainly hoping to avoid the West Asian clubs. Though a number of East Bengal players would have preferred to play New Radiant, as revealed to Goal, they wouldn't mind facing the Indonesian club.
Mehtab Hussain, the East Bengal captain was happy with the draw. "We have to respect our opponents. They have also topped their group. It will be a good show for football, I hope," he told Goal minutes after the draw.
East Bengal will play the first leg at home on September 17 and a week later shall face them in Indonesia.
"We don't know much about them. It is always better to face an unknown opponent in your home ground first," he opined.
Semen Padang coach Jafri Sastra was optimistic of his team's chances to progress into the semi-final and said, "We've been ready for anything since quarter finals. So, no problem. I think we have open chance to go through the semi-final. Now we have to prepare as best as possible."
East Bengal had reached the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup back in 2004 under the tutelage of Subhash Bhowmick, but were unable to make it to the last four. Dempo SC remains the only Indian outfit to have reached the semi-finals of the tournament in 2008.
This season the Red and Gold outfit had a great start to the AFC Cup campaign and became the first Indian club to reach the knock-out stage unbeaten. In the round of 16 play-off, they thrashed Myanmar's Yangon United 5-1.
Trevor James Morgan, the former East Bengal coach, played an important role in the success of the side. It will certainly be a challenge for new coach Marcos Falopa to ensure that the Kolkata outfit put in their best display and make it into the final four of the AFC Cup.