East Bengal will be playing for India's pride tomorrow, says Marcos Falopa

East Bengal will need to win by 2-0 or 3-1 margin in order to create history by becoming the first Indian football team to enter the final of the second tier continental club championship.

Updated: October 21, 2013 22:35 IST
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Kolkata: East Bengal coach Marcos Falopa on Monday declared that his bunch of bravehearts are raring to put their best foot forward as they will be representing India in the AFC Cup second leg semi-final against Kuwait SC here on Tuesday.

East Bengal will need to win by 2-0 or 3-1 margin in order to create history by becoming the first Indian football team to enter the final of the second tier continental club championship.

"It is a very important match for us tomorrow as we are playing for the pride of not only East Bengal but India as well. My boys have prepared well and are ready to try their best for our fantastic supporters," Brazilian coach Falopa told mediapersons at the customary pre-match press meet alongside skipper and India international Mehtab Hossain.

An emotionally charged Hossain on his part said that "we are ready to die on the field but won't leave the turf without giving our last drop of blood and sweat."

East Bengal coach however feels that underdogs have always performed under pressure and cited the example of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta where the unheralded Nigerian youth team defeated a much more fancied Brazilian side in the gold medal match.

"No one wins before the game and upsets do happen in football. I remember the 1996 Olympics, when no one gave Nigeria a chance against Brazil. But eventually it was the African nation that emerged victorious. So we are going to fight till the very end."

Asked whether it is possible for a home team to stay relaxed before a high-profile match, the coach replied, "It is important to stay relaxed before such a big game but I don't have to tell my players about it because they are all professionals and aware of their duties.

"Kuwait SC are a very strong side and have three or four very good players like Brazilian Rogerinho and Tunisian striker Issam Jemaa. They are very skillful but we have studied them and will try our best."

The turf at the Salt Lake Stadium will be an advantage for the home team as they have played most of their matches on this ground.

"Playing in the artificial turf is a slight advantage for us but let's not forget that a good side like Kuwait SC can adapt to any situation," he said.

Despite pressure situation, Falopa was able to show his humorous side when scribes asked about South Sudanese striker James Moga's toothache.

"Probably he is having too much of biryani!".

For Kuwait SC coach Marin Ion, the important factor will be guarding his players against complacency which cost them two goals in their home match.

"It is going to be a very interesting and difficult match for both sides. I am confident that my players will have full concentration for the entire game," the Romanian coach said.

The visiting side coach ruled out any chance of pressure as there is a possibility about playing in-front of atleast 50,000 people.

"It will be a pleasure playing in front of a packed stadium tomorrow. Both teams knew about each other even before the first leg, so we were not surprised by East Bengal's comeback in the first leg. We are not used to playing on artificial turfs but some of our players who are internationals have a bit of experience. I am confident that we will adapt and that two days of training on the artificial surface will be enough for our preparation."

Ion didn't forget to mention that as defending champions they now exactly know what needs to be done in such a situation.

"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."

Kuwait SC are missing injured midfielder Fahad Al Enezi while East Bengal midfielders Reisangmi Vashum and Japanese Ryuji Sueoka would be unavailable due to injuries.

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