|Hadi Khamees (picture above) argues with Australian referee Strebe Delovski as he flashes
the red card after the Kuwait SC player kicked Uga Okpara (on the ground) without
provocation. Delovski (picture right by Santosh Ghosh) gives marching orders to
East Bengal defender Arnab Mondal, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Tuesday
Calcutta: East Bengal coach Marcos Falopa, on Tuesday, agreed that Saturday’s I-League loss to Dempo did have an adverse effect on his players. East Bengal lost the return leg of the AFC Cup semi-final 0-3 to Kuwait SC at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Tuesday.
“Yes I can say it now… That Dempo loss did affect our morale,” the Brazilian said.
Falopa said Kuwait SC were the deserving winners. “But we did give our best. We tried everything. But in the end you have to agree they were better than us. I think Kuwait SC will go on to win the title yet again,” he said at the post-match media conference. Falopa hoped the fans realised that Kuwait SC were a better side. “It’s a semi-final. So your opponent will be tough. You cannot expect to play a team from Myanmar in the last-four stage.”
Falopa said East Bengal were more organised for the first 40 minutes. “Then Rogerio’s goal finished us. We conceded one more within minutes and it was all over. We tried to come back in the second half and I thought may be we would be able to get a draw. We couldn’t. It doesn’t take the credit from our boys. Everyone gave their best.”
Falopa said East Bengal conceded soft goals over the two legs. “In the first leg we let in easy goals. And in the return leg also same thing happened… Take the third goal for example. It showed we are not that experienced. We should not have allowed Fahad Awad to take that shot… I think after we conceded the first goal our concentration level dipped…”
James Moga was very upset after Falopa pulled him out in the 51st minute. Falopa though refused to read too much into Moga’s behaviour. “These things happen. He wanted to continue, wanted to contribute… So he was upset… It’s a good sign. I like players who are always charged-up,” he said.
Kuwait SC coach Marin Ion was bowled over by the Salt Lake Stadium atmosphere. “The crowd was amazing. And they were very sporting. Even when their team was trailing, they kept on cheering the players. They also applauded when we scored. I will never forget this.”
Highest scorer of the tournament Issam Jemaa did not play any part on Tuesday. Ion said he wanted speed on the wings. “That’s why I went with Hadi Khamees. He has the speed and the rival defence found it difficult to deal with him,” he said.