AFC Cup: Indian clubs look for elusive win

The two Indian participating clubs - Salgaocar SC and East Bengal Club - in the 2012 AFC Cup continue to look for the elusive win in their continental campaign tomorrow. East Bengal Club travel to Iraq to face Arbil SC, while Salgaocar SC host Jordanian side Al-Wehdat in Goa.

The Kolkata giants have lost all three Group B matches so far and will try to make amends at the Francouse Al-Hareeri Stadium in Arbil tomorrow, but they had to travel to Iraq without coach Trevor Morgan and striker Tolgay Ozbey due to visa issues. Last week East Bengal conceded two goals against Arbil in the last quarter of the match to lose 0-2 at home which they will want to avoid tomorrow.

East Bengal will be coached by assistant coach Ranjan Chaudhury who said at the pre-match press conference, "We will get more international experience. We are expecting a tough match but will go all out for victory."

Captain Sanju Pradhan added, "We will play for a win as any loss will throw us out of the competition."

And Arbil aren't taking the red-and-gold lightly as their coach Nezar Mahrous said, "We are expecting a tough match and as our rivals have lost three matches and will go all out to win the match. Moreover although my team is good but the right combination is not clicking."

Maybe there lies the chance for East Bengal to cause an upset in the Kurdish controlled region of North Iraq where the weather is pleasant and the match will kick-off at 18.00 local time.

Salgaocar SC hope to make amends for a 5-0 trashing at the hands of Al-Wehdat last week at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Amman. If the Goans have any hopes of staying in the competition then they will need a win as otherwise their first AFC Cup will be over in the group stage.

Salgaocar SC coach Karim Bencharifa banks on the fan support to help them pull of another surprise result like their home tie against Uzbek side FC Neftchi. "We need support from our fans. In such a game, we need to punch above our weight to compete with Al Wehdat, and we need all the support possible," said Karim at the pre-match press conference.

But Karim will have a problem fielding his foreign recruits. "We will be playing without Luciano (Sabrosa) who is suspended, Chidi (Edeh) and (Ryuji) Sueoka who are injured," said Karim who still will hope to have Chidi and Sueoka at his disposal.

Talking about the away game Karim said, "The last game was a difficult one, many things did not go our way, plus Al Wehdat's physical presence was also very strong. However, we have to stay optimistic. That's the beauty of football. We’ll only know the result once the game is over."

Al-Wehdat's Serbian coach Branko Smiljanic said, "To be frank I was a bit concerned. I was worried about the heat and humidity before arriving here, but after yesterday's practice I see now that it is not so bad. We came here one day early so that should help us to acclimatize. I think we will manage. For us it's a big game, I know Salgaocar is a good team and it is going to be difficult for us to play them at home."

The AFC Cup Group D match is is scheduled to kick-off at 17:45 IST tomorrow at the Nehru Stadium, Margao.

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