Armando Colaco and Subhas Bhowmick know a thing or two about the AFC Cup battle as the successful Indian coach duo felt East Bengal have it in them to win the showpiece continental tournament.
East Bengal scripted history of sorts after securing their maiden berth in the AFC Cup semi-finals, overcoming a spirited Semen Padang playing in front of a vociferous home crowd here on Tuesday.
Colaco, under whom Dempo had become the first Indian team to qualify for the AFC Cup semis (in 2008) said East Bengal would now have to brandish "rough and tough" football.
"I've always said India have a plenty of talents and the ability to make the AFC Cup final and return with the trophy," a delighted Colaco told PTI.
"It would be a different game at the semis stage. With teams from the Middle-East countries, they have to play rough and tough to win."
"I'm very happy for East Bengal to have achieved the feat (of becoming the second Indian club to make the semis). They must try their level best to win the next round and reach the final," he said.
Having seen East Bengal's 1-1 draw at Padang today, Colaco said the Kolkata Federation Cup champions would have to be a little more creative in the midfield.
"I was very impressed with their performance in the defence but they have to improve a lot in the midfield."
Former I-League champions Dempo had defeated Home United 4-3 in Singapore in September, 2008 to make the AFC Cup semis.
Colaco said their campaign was tougher as they had to overcome teams from the Middle-East.
"It was more difficult during our time (in 2008) as we had to overcome sides from Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan who would play tough," Colaco said.
Former East Bengal coach Bhowmick, who guided the side to its previous best AFC Cup show -- quarterfinals in 2004 --said: "It's a great achievement..."
"Any win in an international tournament is a good advertisement of Indian football. I am really happy for them.
"But things will get tough from here on as they will have to overcome teams from the Middle-East and South-Eastern countries for a place in the semis. Only teams from Japan or Korea can prove a tough opponents for them.
"But Nothing is impossible in football. East Bengal have it in them to win the title," Bhowmick said.