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Mondal set to be back in XI
- Sasthi still unfit, Bhaichung kicks the stomach bug

Jakarta: After crushing Army FC of The Philippines in their last match, East Bengal face the Indonesian test when they take on local team Persita Tangerang in the quarter finals of the ASEAN Club Cup in Jakarta Monday.

According to a team source, East Bengal are likely to effect one change in the XI which did so well against the Filipino side — Dipak Mondal coming in at S. Malsawmtluanga’s expense to strengthen the defence. In Sunday’s team meeting, it was decided that Bhaichung Bhutia will play upfront with Subhas Chakraborty and Alvito D’Cunha operating from a little deep.

Debjit Ghosh, Douglas da Silva and Suley Musah will start in midfield.

Coach Subhas Bhowmick must be a relieved man to be in a position to field a full team after East Bengal have been dogged by fitness worries over the past few days. Bhaichung, who scored five of the six goals in the last game, and Alvito were both down with stomach upset but have rhecovered. Sasthi Duley, though, isn’t fit yet.

“Sasthi is still nursing a leg injury,” Bhowmick informed on Sunday evening.

The coach will be aware that it would be anything but easy for the Indian champions.

Persita, who were third in the Indonesian league last season, are a much better side than the Philippines side which lost 0-6 to East Bengal the other day. In fact, their striker Zaenal Arif has been matching Bhaichung goal for goal. Arif netted four in the Indonesian side’s 5-1 rout of Telecom and Transportation (Laos) in their last league game on Friday.

Arif was extremely respectful of East Bengal. “They are a very good side, I’ve seen them play,” he said, predicting a tough clash.

Bhowmick, who saw Tangerang’s match against the Laos team, not only complimented the Indonesian side, he also had a word of praise for their fans.

“When we fail to break the deadlock in our local league matches, the crowd reacts quite violently. But the way they waited for their team to deliver is quite remarkable,” Bhowmick observed.

For the first time in the tournament, East Bengal will be facing a vociferous crowd rooting against them.

In the first two matches of the Indian champions, there weren’t more than 500-odd fans. The organisers, however, expect at least a 20,000 turnout in the quarter final.

Persita coach Bennu Dolo feels the crowd support will help them. “We expect a big turnout Monday who will be shouting for us,” Dolo said, adding it will be a 50-50 match. Bhowmick was careful in his match-eve analysis. “Persita have many advantages, firstly because they are playing at home in front of so many supporters and secondly, they have some skilled players.”

Meanwhile, Petrokimia Putra moved into the semi-final Sunday edging out SAFFC Singapore 3-2 in Surabya. Danilo Fernando scored a golden goal in the 113th minute after the match ended 2-2 in regulation time.

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