Pedang, Indoesia: A tough away test awaits East Bengal as the Indian club, already dubbed underdogs by coach Marcos Falopa despite a one-goal cushion, look to earn a maiden semi-final berth with a positive result against Semen Pedang in their AFC Cup 2nd leg quarterfinal here on Tuesday.
East Bengal had won the first leg at home 1-0, with Japanese substitute Ryuji Sueoka scoring the all-important goal at the Salt Lake Stadium.
But things could be different for East Bengal at the Haji Agus Salim Stadium, with the conditions expected to favour the home side. And, in East Bengal coach Marcos Falopa's own words, the local crowd and conditions could only add to the pressure on his side.
But the visitors can take heart from the fact they are still unbeaten in the competition this season, and have won once and drawn twice on the road on their way to the last eight.
For Semen Pedang, the defeat to East Bengal was their first of the season, having topped Group E with an unbeaten record.
As far as team news is concerned, Gurpreet Singh is expected to continue under East Bengal bar despite the return of pint-sized Abhijit Mondal from an injury.
Young Gurpreet gave a good account of himself in the home game and will like to replicate his first-leg show tomorrow.
Stopper backs Uga Okpara and Arnab Mondal, one of the best central defence pairing in I-League, will be entrusted with the task of keeping Edward Wilson Junior and Titus Bonai at bay.
With Noaba Singh on the right and Saumik Dey on the left, East Bengal will look to have them attack from the flanks, apart from doing their defensive duties. Skipper Mehtab Hossain is likely to lead the midfield, and he will be up against the creative duo of Muhammad Nur Iskandar and Vendry Mofu -- both troubled the East Bengal defence in the first leg.
Lalrindika Ralte will also look to prove a point in the middle of the park.
After a below par outing in the first leg, experienced Nigerian striker Chidi Edeh will look to get his act right upfront.
"It will be a hard match for us as the rivals are favourites as they will enjoy the benefits of home conditions. We are prepared for it and will make all efforts to enter the semi final," Falopa said in the pre-match conference.
"Although we are leading 1-0 we are the underdogs. Padang has some good players like Edward Junior Wilson Ellie Aiboy and they will also be bolstered by the return of their Argentine midfielder Esteban."
Semen Pedang manager Jaffri Sastra said his team will go all out.
"We will go all out to win by a margin of two goals so that we can qualify. East Bengal have some quality foreigners in Chidi Edeh, Ryuji Sueoka and Uga Okpara but we will play to win as we have home advantage.
"Our team would also be strengthened with the return of Esteban our Argentine midfielder who missed the first match due to booking," Sastra said.