By qualifying for the AFC Cup for the second successive season, East Bengal have already achieved something rare in Indian football.
Time they also realised its significance. For some years now, Dempo, a name that evokes respect even among Thailand’s Chonburi FC players, have been stressing on the importance of getting noticed in Asia.
Subhas Bhowmick has already lent East Bengal a legacy in the AFC Cup and the ASEAN Cup before that. But shallow reserves and a tough I-League meant East Bengal coach Philippe de Ridder was only happy ‘riding out the storm’ last year.
This time though, Trevor James Morgan flew to Thailand to watch Chonburi FC, his first AFC Cup Group H opponent, play in the Thai League.
He felt it’s time East Bengal think beyond India. “There’s no doubt that more people will take notice if we do well in the AFC Cup. Our aim, therefore, is to win every game we play and qualify from the group,” said Morgan, one day before their first AFC Cup tie on the artificial turf at Yuba Bhararti Krirangan here on Wednesday."It has to be understood that the satisfaction from beating Mohun Bagan can only last a few days. People still remember East Bengal’s victories in the AFC and ASEAN Cup and we want to recreate that. We want to win the I-League as well as do well in the AFC Cup," said East Bengal football secretary Santosh Bhattacharya.
Their Thai opponents, however, are way ahead when it comes to infrastructure. Chonburi are one the best in a country that is coached by Manchester United great Brian Robson.
PUNE: Dempo Sports Club began their AFC Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Yemen’s Al Tilal. Dempo scored through Roberto Mendes Silva (53rd) and Nigerian striker Ranti Martins Soleye (67th).