Marcos Falopa is optimistic his side can go toe-to-toe with defending champions Kuwait SC, in the first leg of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Cup quarter-final on the 1st of October.
Speaking at a press conference in the city of Kolkata, the coach of East Bengal hopes to take his team to Kuwait, go toe-to-toe with their adversaries and get the right result required for them to take the fight to the second leg, where they will play in Kolkata on the 22nd of October.
“They are physically stronger and have very good foreigners. But they will make a big mistake if they do not show us the respect we deserve. We are not in the semi-finals just like that. It will be a difficult battle, but we are ready for it,” expiated the veteran coach.
He also stated that he had harboured advice from acquaintances who coach in the region. “One of my friends in Kuwait called me and gave me some inputs on our opponents. I also have the experience of working in West Asia for 11 years. So I know it’s going to be tough against Kuwait SC.”
He picked out players of eminence such as Brazilian Rogerio and Issam Jemaa, a Tunisian striker who scored seven of his team’s twelve goals against the quarter-finalists, as players who could give his side a headache.
Interestingly players from East Bengal, namely Uga Okpara, Harmanjyot Singh Khabra, Joaquim Abranches and Lalrindika Ralte and Kuwaiti SC players such as Issam Jemma, defender Hussain Ali Baba and medio Chadi Hammami have all been booked. So another card will see them sit-out the next leg, a possibly devastation for their respective teams.
Perhaps, to shield his players and prevent bias, Falopa has campaigned to prevent a West Asian referee from taking charge of the game. “This is not in my hands. I have told the club management and let’s see what happens. I would like to see a referee from anywhere in Asia, but not West Asia. After all, it’s a semi-final.”
Club officials, contrasted in their opinions and stated that they cannot strong arm what evidently is the decision of the AFC.
“It’s the sole discretion of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
“In group stage matches, West Asian referees do officiate in matches involving clubs from the same region. But we are not sure what will happen in the semi-final. We just hope the match is not marred by poor decisions,” explained an official.
Calvin Lobo has been recalled while Falopa will be pleased with the news of Harmanjyot Singh Khabra returning after battling injury hell. Ryuji Seuoka is out of contention for a month after picking up an injury in the match against Semen Padang.
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