Kolkata, Mar 16 (UNI) A tired East Bengal will have their work cut out when they take on Yemen's Ahli Sana in their second match of Group-B of AFC Cup here on Tuesday.
East Bengal lost their first match against Lebanon's Safa club 0-1 in an away encounter, while Sana comes after picking up a 1-1 draw at home against Jordan's Al Wihdat.
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 can prove to be 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.
Home team coach Alok Mukherjee told UNI, ''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 that the players will get on to the ground with their scoring-boots on.'' Asked about the combinatin, he said, ''I would like to keep that a secret. I have seen them (Sana) a little. They play fast one-touch game and have at least seven national team 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 Yemen 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 West Asia.
Coach Sabah Jumah, who is the former Iraqi Youth National Team coach, told UNI, ''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 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 little worried about their most potent striker Alial Nono's groin injury.
While both Alok and Sabah are hoping to get three points from the encounter, the host coach is worried about scoring, Sabah is wonedring how will it be like to play in the heat of the afternoon.
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