East Bengal pin hopes on home advantage to create history

Kolkata, Oct 21 (IANS) A step away from creating an Indian history, city soccer giants East Bengal are banking on home advantage, as they play for the "country's pride" against holders Kuwait Sports Club in the AFC Cup semi-final here Tuesday.

With the match at the Salt Lake stadium set to draw between 50,000 to 70,000 spectators, the locals are hoping the full-throated shouts of their fans would prove intimidating for their formidable rivals, who have never played on the artificial turf laid in the giant stadium.

Added to the strength of playing on familiar terrain is East Bengal's home record in this edition of the tournament - they have won all their five matches at the Salt Lake stadium.

A place in the final would make East Bengal the toast of the nation, as they would be the country's first club to make it to the title round of the second-rung continental tourney. Goa's Dempo had lost in the semis in 2004.

Having gone down 2-4 in the first leg of the semi final at Kuwait City - where they rallied with gusto to pump in two goals after trailing 0-4 at the breather - East Bengal need a 2-0 or 3-1 win to make it to the finals before their emotion-charged supporters.

A 4-2 victory for the home side would push the game to extra time.

Kuwait SC, boasting of ahost of players doing duty for the country in the World Cup qualifiers, need a draw or limit East Bengal to a 1-0 triumph to reach the final for the fourth time. They have won the cup twice and finished runners up in 2011.

Both sides, however, would miss key players. East Bengal would have to take to the field sans injured midfielders Reisangmi Vashum and Ryuji Sueoka. Kuwait SC would miss injured medio Fahad Al Enezi.

"It is a very important match for us tomorrow. We will play for the pride of not only East Bengal but India as well. My boys have prepared well and are ready to try their best. We are going to fight till the very end," said Brazilian coach Marcos Falopa,

Falopa admitted that Kuwait SC were the superior side, but said underdogs also have their chances in such games. He praised Kuwait SC's lethal Tunisian striker Issam Jemaa, and Brazilian player Rogerinho.

The key players for East Bengal would be South Sudanese striker James Moga, and his upfront partner Edeh Chidi of Nigeria. "Chidi's compatriot Uga Okpara would have to marshall the defence and contain the dangerous Jemaa".

Kuwait SC coach Marin Ion said both teams would be under pressure.

"The pressure is not only on us. We are proud to be the defending champions and know exactly what is required in the second leg after winning 4-2 in the first," said Ion.

"We are not used to playing on artificial turf but some of our international players have a bit of experience. I am confident we will adapt after two days of training on the artificial surface."

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Jagmohan Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Jagmohan Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

It's getting increasingly tough for bowlers: Ajmal

It's getting increasingly tough for bowlers: Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Moores to get second chance in England top job

Moores to get second chance in England top job

The 51-year-old will succeed Andy Flower, who stepped down after five years in charge following the 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia in January. More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »