New Delhi: India captain Sunil Chhetri backed East Bengal to beat Indonesian Champions Semen Padang over two legs in the AFC Cup quarters in September.
"It's a relatively easy draw for East Bengal. Indian Clubs are usually pitted against West Asian Teams who are very tough to beat. With all due respect to Semen Padang, I feel East Bengal have enough firepower to win against them," Chhetri said on the sidelines of his eight-day summer coaching camp for kids at the Ambedkar Stadium.
The twice AIFF Player-of-the-Year knows a thing or two about Semen Padang, having played the latter in the Group stages of the AFC Cup for I-League champions Churchill Brothers.
Chhetri, who spent the second half of last season on loan with Churchill, scored the opening goal of their match against Pedang in a Group E encounter which ended 2-2.
"We played against them in the Group stages of the Tournament. They are a good side with quality players like Edward Junior Wilson. But I feel the manner East Bengal have been playing in the AFC Cup, Padang may find their going difficult. But one cannot be complacent, especially in the Quarterfinals," the 28-year-old stated.
Padang, coached by Jafri Sastrak, missed their foreign recruits in that match against the I-League Champions March 12. But in all likelihood, they will be at full strength when they look to overturn East Bengal who previous best in the AFC Cup was back in 2004 where they reached the last eight stages under Subhash Bhowmick.
"East Bengal have a lot of quality in their ranks. Under (Trevor James) Morgan they have looked a well oiled machine. The team chemistry has been superb, thus this success. It's amazing that an Indian club has reached this far in the AFC Cup after a long time."
"I wish East Bengal all the best. I feel very happy to see that an Indian Club is doing so well in the international arena. I hope they go all the way, but at this juncture it is advisable to take one match at a time, which I'm sure they will," said Chhetri.