East Bengal rue lack of match practice
Kolkata: East Bengal chief coach Marcos Falopa on Monday expressed concern on the lack match practice by his side on the eve of their home leg AFC Cup quarterfinal clash against Semen Padang of Indonesia here on Tuesday.
"It`s a big match. But the team did not have the kind of match practice needed for a mega match like this," the Brazilian said.
East Bengal have played just two local league matches to start their season. Their season opener against Kalighat Milan Sangha was abandoned after they led 4-1, while they beat Police AC 4-0 in the local league.
"We wanted to organise practice matches in countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar... I, myself, spoke to authorities in Myanmar but it could not be materialised."
Falopa, however, said the boys were confident of a positive result against the Indonesian outfit.
"They are all fit and are in shape. Few of our players are fresh from their campaign for the national team (in SAFF Championship), so we are confident of putting up a good show.
"Being the first (big) match, it`s special for me. Morgan did a good job with the side. Every coach has his style but I`ve not brought much changes after joining. You have to give some time. I`m sure the boys would do well."
East Bengal captain Mehtab Hossain said, "We are beginning our campaign with a home match, so it`s kind of an advantage. We are confident but not over confident."
Mehtab slammed the Vivekananda Yubabharati Krirangan artificial turf saying, "It`s like a sixth-grade surface. Players are more prone to groin/hamstring injuries on this."
Padang chief coach Jafri Sastra said the team was keen to create history by entering the AFC Cup semis for the first time.
"We are playing the quarters for the first time, so it`s a big match for us. We will make history if we enter semis. Everybody will give their best," Sastra said.
"I have seen videos of East Bengal matches. They are a good team. Edeh Chidi and James Moga are dangerous players. But we have our plans in place and we hope to win both legs."
In the away leg, East Bengal will face their Indonesian opponents at the Agus Salim Stadium at Padang on September 24.