East Bengal face tough opponents Al Wihdat in AFC cup

April 1st, 2008 - 9:45 pm ICT by admin  


Zarqa (Jordan), April 1 (IANS) Federation Cup champions East Bengal will have a tough task on hand when they face Jordan League champions Al Wihdat in a group B match of the Asian Football Cup (AFC) at the Prince Mohammad International Stadium here Wednesday. After a dismal domestic season, East Bengal got a much-needed boost when they defeated Yemen’s Ahli Sana’a 1-0 in their last AFC Cup match in Kolkata. On the other hand, Al Wihdat will be seeking their first win in Group B.

East Bengal interim coach Aloke Mukherjee is aware that his team faces a tricky assignment Wednesday.

“Al Wihdat are a very tough side,” said Mukherjee. “They have nine Jordan international players in their team and have had some good performances recently.

“They also have an Iraqi defender (Haydar Jabbar) who has been playing a major role in the team’s recent performances.”

Mukherjee, who replaced Monoranjan Bhattacharya last month, is still looking for the perfect balance in his side but is confident they will continue to improve their performances in the coming games.

“It took me 20 days and five matches but in the end I managed to bring the boys together,” said Mukherjee. “We finally won (against Ahli Sana’a) but there is still a long, long way to go.”

The Jordanians team began their AFC Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw with Ahli Sana’a before coming from behind to hold group leaders Safa to a 3-3 draw at home two weeks ago.

Al Wihdat are only one point away from retaining their Jordanian league title but while they have so far failed to translate their impressive local form to the continental tournament, assistant coach Jamal Mahmoud believes that the match against East Bengal could be the turning point for his side.

“Our target is to get a victory and add more points,” said Mahmoud.

“At the same time we hope that the result of the other group match between Safa and Ahli Sana’a works in our favour to give us a better chance of qualifying from the group. After two draws in our first two matches, our only chance to get back into contention is to beat East Bengal,” he added.

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