Strong words from the Brazilian gaffer, as he acknowledges the strength of the Kuwaiti opposition, but believes his set of players have the talent to hit back...Marcos Falopa, THE Brazilian coach of the East Bengal team, has expressed optimism at the prospect of his team turning the tide and progressing to the final of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Cup. They find themselves trailing on aggregate against current holders, Kuwait FC, by two goals, after the first leg of the semi-final finished 4-2.
In a series of interviews, Falopa exuded belief that not only tactical play but the presence of the supporters will also have a large sway on the game. He issued a rallying cry for all the East Bengal supporters in Kolkata to support his team on October 22nd, the date of the second leg.
“Our supporters are a part of the team. They complete us. They twelfth man of the team. If we produce a good atmosphere, it will be a huge psychological boost,” to The Hindustan Express.
Falopa also explained at length, to The Telegraph why facing Kuwait SC was a herculean task and why he was happy with his team’s progress in the semi-final.
“The good thing about my team is that the players understand my instructions. It makes my job a lot easier. I have got a smart bunch of players who can implement the plans. I have got unity in my squad and that is producing the results,” enunciated the 64 year-old.
"It was a very difficult match for us. Playing such an important game away from home and against a team who are technically far more superior than us is no easy job. Also we were not in the best shape."
He also stated, “The players have been under a hectic schedule and didn’t get proper recovery time. Then there was this drama about the visas of three of your players. So considering all these things, I’m happy with how my team performed. What stood out was their determination. Losing 2-4 is definitely better than losing 0-4.”
Falopa knows that even with the two away goal advantage, there is very little room to manoeuvre between going out at the semi-final and winning a final’s berth. He also mentioned the presence of certain players such as Issam Jemma and Rogiero as imminent threats.
“I wouldn’t deny that having two away goals gives us definite advantage. It will give us a big push. But I want to make it clear that to qualify for the final, we will have to fight. No way is it going to be easy just because it is our home match.”
Already Scheming, Falopa believes tactics for the second bout are already underway in his think-tank.
“I spotted some weakness in Kuwait SC’s game when we had them under pressure in the second-half. I will keep those in mind while planning for the return leg.”
He concluded by saying, “It is going to be a tactical battle on October 22 (the return leg). My players worked very hard to earn two away goals. I’m sure we will be able to make it to final of the AFC Cup. That will be a proud moment for East Bengal, a proud moment for the country.”
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