KARACHI: K-Electric still harboured hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup despite a 1-3 loss to Kingfisher East Bengal on Tuesday – their second successive defeat in Group ‘B’ of the tournament underway in Chittagong.

The Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) champions, who lost their opener 2-3 to Dhaka Abahani on Tuesday, remain pointless but can still sneak into the last four of the inaugural edition of the eight-team event.

It was Chittagong Abahani – who K-Electric face in their final group game on Saturday – who gave Mohammed Essa-led side’s faint hopes a shot in the arm when they edged Dhaka Abahani 1-0 in Tuesday’s other match.

With goal difference to come into play for qualification, K-Electric need to beat Chittagong – who lost 1-2 to East Bengal in their opener – by a healthy margin and hope their Indian rivals do them a favour against Dhaka.

“The team still has a chance to go through,” K-Electric’s Sports Head Zabe Khan told Dawn from Chittagong. “So we are banking on other results and need to beat Chittagong by a margin.”

Zabe was earlier apologetic after the team’s loss to East Bengal, saying he wasn’t able to “live up to the expectations of the Pakistani people” with the Indo-Pak rivalry dominating most of the pre-match hype.

East Bengal dominated the first period and most of the second as K-Electric showed their inexperience, Bangladesh news agency UNB reported.

Midfielder Oroko Essien put East Bengal ahead in the 15th minute with a header from the top of the six-year box off a cross by Abinash Ruidas.

Mohammed Rafique doubled East Bengal’s lead ten minutes later, slotting in off a back-pass by Essien.

Ranti Martins made it 3-0 in the 49th with Essien again involved before Mohammed Rasool netted a consolation in the 84th with a tap-in off Mohammad Riaz’s low cross.

Another harsh lesson for K-Electric but being the first Pakistan side to take part in a South Asian club tournament, their coach majid Shafiq was optimistic that the exposure will be vital for the players.

“There is a long journey ahead and this is just the start,” said Majid, referring to the team’s AFC Cup preliminary round/playoffs next year. “I’m proud of my players who gave it their all.”

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2015

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