East Bengal to face Ahli Sana’a in AFC home tieMarch 16th, 2008 - 9:40 pm ICT by admin
Kolkata, March 16 (IANS) East Bengal will have their work cut out when they take on Yemen’s Ahli Sana’a in their second match of Group-B of AFC Cup to be played on Tuesday. East Bengal lost their first match against Lebanon’s Safa club 0-1 in an away encounter, while Sana’a comes here after picking up a 1-1 draw at home against Jordan’s Al Wihdat.
Despite nursing hopes of picking full points from this game, both coaches also have their worries. Alok Mukherjee is worried about East Bengal’s poor scoring while Sabah Jumah is wondering about the effect heat on Ahli Sana’a.
The good news for East Bengal is that both Mehtab Hossain and Edmilson, suffering from injuries, have been declared fit for the tie. While Mehtab is an asset as a provider in the mid-field, Edmilson’s goal-poaching qualities will be needed as the red-golds look for a turnaround after a series of below par performances.
East Bengal coach Mukherjee said: “It is not that we played a bad game against Safa. It is just that we are not converting our scoring opportunities. I really hope the players will get on to the ground with their scoring-boots on.”
Asked about the combination, he said, “I would like to keep that a secret. I have seen them (Sana) a little bit. They play fast one-touch game and have at least seven national players in their first eleven. So they will be a tough opponent.”
The coach however indicated that while Rahim Nabi could continue to play as a forward with Edmilson, Ghanaian striker Abeeku Gaisie will play behind the attacking line.
The Yemeni club comes with quite a formidable reputation having reached the semi-final of the Cup twice. Their strikers Alial Nono and Al Adil Salami have their reputation preceding them as two of the finest predators of the middle-east.
Coach Sabah Jumah, who is the former Iraqi Youth National Team coach, told IANS, “East Bengal is a good side and they play good football. We have seen them play against Lebanon side and thought they could draw.”
Asked about his team, he said, “We will go for a win. We have got a good combination of players from both youth and senior side. And we hope to do well.”
The team has as many as seven players from the national side including their captain and goalkeeper Manaud Abdul Kaalij and playmaker Almari Fuad. The coach sounded a tad worried about their most potent striker Alial Nono’s groin injury.