East Bengal wary against Semen Padang in AFC quarters
Kolkata: Under their new Brazilian coach Marcos Falopa, East Bengal will face their first real test when they take on a spirited Semen Padang of Indonesia in the first leg of the AFC Cup quarterfinals here on Tuesday.
In his first big match after taking over the reins from a hugely successful Trevor Morgan, the East Bengal head coach would be under pressure as the Brazilian would look to prove a point by warding off the Indonesian outfit.
They may be debutants in this top-tier competition, but Padang, leaders in the ongoing Indonesian Premier League with 41 points from 16 matches, have plenty to offer against a team who are short on match practice.
Having just started the season with two local league matches, East Bengal would look to find the rhythm with a new combination under Falopa, a factor that may go against the red-and-gold brigade.
On the other hand, Padang players are fresh from their campaign in the Indonesian league as all eyes would be on their Liberian forward Edwar Junior Wilson.
He is their leading scorer in the AFC Cup with nine goals, while the Liberian tops the Indonesian Premier League with a tally of 18.
It will be a Wilson vs Uga Okpara battle in the backline as the Liberian forward, who was under Mohun Bagan`s radar, said:"He (Uga) is a good defender, I`ve seen him in the past. But I can tackle him."
Brimming confidence, Wilson further said: "We can log full points then why to think about a draw..."
Wilson slammed the turf yesterday, but made a U-turn today saying:"It appears to be good, we have experience of playing on all kinds of surface. It won`t be an issue."
He will be their main striker with Argentine Esteban Vizcarra not available for a double yellow, while South Korean midfielder Yu Hoon Koo and Cameroon defender David Pagbe are the other two foreigners.
Falopa is likely to field a 4-3-1-2 formation with a new forward line in Edeh Chidi and James Moga who switched over from Pune FC, while former Dempo medio Joaquim Abranches may be seen as a withdrawal striker.
Recovering from an injury, Ryuji Sueoka is uncertain but the Japanese is likely to be in substitution list.
Under Morgan, East Bengal had a historic unbeaten run in this year`s AFC Cup as they made the quarterfinals for the first time since 2004.
In 2008, Dempo had become the first Indian team to qualify for the AFC Cup semifinals.
In the AFC Cup group league stage, Padang had defeated Churchill Brothers 3-1 in their home match while drawing 2-2 in the away fixture.