Rabu, 03 April 2013

AFC Cup: East Bengal score impressive 4-2 victory in Singapore

Kolkata giants East Bengal Club scored an impressive 4-2 victory against Tampines Rover in their third AFC Cup Group H match at the Jelan Besar Stadium in Singapore tonight.

With this away win East Bengal move to the top of Group H with now seven points from three matches and a one goal better goal difference then Sai Gon Xuan Thanh from Vietnam with Selangor from Malaysia and Tampines Rovers only on a point and an uphill task to move past the top two sides in the group and qualify for the pre-quarterfinals.

Tampines Rovers were chasing all three points to stay in contention for the knockout stage and they had the first chance after only four minutes when midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman skewed a shot wide from inside the penalty area. Then Khairul Amri saw his header saved by East Bengal goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal's foot after just 12 minutes, before a defender blocked another shot by the Singapore international striker shortly afterwards.

However, it was East Bengal who took the lead on 18 minutes when Tampines defender Anaz Hadee tried to clear the ball from a corner only to send it into his own net amid confusion inside the Tampines box. The Indian Federation Cup holders could have gone 2-0 up two minutes later but goalkeeper Sasa Dreven tipped Mehtab Hossain's 50-metre lob over the bar. But then Tampines levelled on 28 minutes when Serbian forward Sead Hadzibulic rose highest to head home off a diagonal lob from Shahdan, and the hosts looked set to press for more with their superior team play.

However, wasteful finishing by the reigning S.League champions kept the red-and-gold in the game, and striker Chidi Edeh played a central role as East Bengal scored two quick goals shortly after the hour mark. First Chidi showed alertness to chase down a ball on the right before he squared for Andrew Barisic to finish easily from two metres out on 62 minutes and then Chidi finished off a counter-attack led by compatriot Penn Orji two minutes later.

But the game was far from over then Amri pulled a goal back for Tampines within just 60 seconds of Chidi's goal to keep the score close, and Tampines brought on Jamil Ali and Aleksandar Duric in a bid to salvage a point. But East Bengal restored their two-goal cushion with three minutes to go, as Chidi played another ball on the right for Andrew Barisic to bundle home.

East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan declared himself pleasantly surprised with the win, which put his team in a strong position to qualify, but stated he is not aiming to top the group. "We would have been happy with a point, but this was a very, very open game," said the Englishman.

"We've got a good start (in the competition), we've had seven points now and we've only played one home game. We'll be favourites to win our two remaining home games, with them being played in the hot afternoon in Calcutta."

"But I've never set goals for this team; it's impossible to set goals when we play in five or six competitions in a season. We'll just take things one game at a time."

Despite the defeat putting his team on the brink of AFC Cup elimination, Tampines Rovers head coach Nenad Bacina stressed the importance of staying upbeat for the return fixture in six days' time.

"I think we didn't deserve to lose by this scoreline, but congratulations to East Bengal, they took their chances. They were the better side tonight," said the Croatian.

"The players tried their best tonight, so there should be no regrets. The world will not stop because we lost a game, so we have to stay positive," Bacinas added.

In the end East Bengal won 4-2 against Tampines Rover and followed-up yesterday's Churchill Brothers 3-0 win against Warriors FC also from Singapore


East Bengal Club
1-Abhijit Mondal - 7-Harmanjot Singh Khabra (73' 16-Gurwinder Singh), 2-Raju Eknath Gaikwad, 4-Uga Okpara, 29-Saumik Dey - 15-Sanju Pradhan [C], 14-Mehtab Hossain, 18-Penn Ikechukwu Orji, 21-Lalrindika Ralte (79' 12-Reisangmi Vashum) - 27-Andrew Barisic (90+2' 26-Manandeep Singh), 10-Chidi Edeh

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