East Bengal make history
Football-crazy Kolkatans were in a jubilant mood when an equalising header late in the second half of return leg of an AFC Cup quarterfinal ensured one of Kolkata's leading teams, Kingfisher East Bengal Club's maiden berth in this tournament's semifinal.
Riding on 1-0 lead from the home leg held on 17 September, when a brilliant drive by Ryuji Sueoka gave the Kolkatans a well-deserved win against Semen Pedang FC of Indonesia, a draw was all that they needed in the return leg to reach the last four.
Held on Tuesday afternoon in scorching heat in Agus Salim Stadium, Pedang, the home side kept the visitors under pressure from the start of the second leg, and a defensive lapse mainly from East Bengal's goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh in the 24th minute of the first half enabled Edward Wilson to give the home side a 1-0 lead in the match, and bring the tie to a 1-1 parity.
In the second half, there were attacks on both ends without bringing any joy to either side, and when extra-time was looking a certainty, came the equaliser. In the 78th minute, the two substitutes of the visiting side combined to level the match, when Sarabjit's cross from the right flank was neatly headed into the far corner of Pedang's net by James Moga, giving East Bengal a 2-1 aggregate lead in the tie, which remained the final result.
This was the Kolkata club's sixth away win out of 22 matches in AFC Cup, and their opponents in the semifinal would be the winners of the tie between Kuwait Sports Club and New Radiant, Maldives. With the Kuwaiti club taking a hefty 7-2 lead from the first match, they are all set to reach their 4th semifinal in five years.