Tue, 22 Jul 2003

Near repeat of Foe tragedy mars LG Cup

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

East Bengal and BEC Tero Sasana reached the semifinals at the LG Cup ASEAN Club Championship after winning their crucial matches on Monday, but it was overshadowed by fears of another episode reminiscent of the Marc Vivien-Foe tragedy.

Around 8,000 spectators inside the Bung Karno stadium had a real scare when East Bengal's Debjit Ghosh was knocked out cold after he went up for header and was blindsided by a vicious flying elbow courtesy of Persita Tangerang's Zaenal Arief in the 35th minute.

Medical personnel were very slow to react and players from both teams appeared to be panicking and trying to resuscitate Ghosh until the tournament doctor finally arrived nearly five minutes into the ordeal and they put him on a stretcher and carted him away in an ambulance.

Persita's Zaenal was not given a yellow or red card by the referee.

The sight of Ghosh lying motionless was eerily reminiscent of the tragedy that marred June's Confederation Cup when Cameroonian Marc Vivien-Foe collapsed without any contact during the match between Cameroon and Colombia in the semifinals. Foe was later pronounced dead and it found he had a rare and dangerous heart condition.

Ghosh was taken to the Mintohardjo NAVY Hospital with a severe concussion, he was eventually upgraded to fair condition and released from the hospital at 9 p.m. on Monday night.

East Bengal, however, persevered and 'won one for the Gipper' as they dispatched Persita to march to the semifinals with a 2-1 win, while BEC Tero Sasana was through at the expense of HAGL of Vietnam, with the same score.

Terdsak Chaiman and Jatupong Tangsukh were the scorers for the Thais, while Le Quoc Vuong scored for HAGL.

East Bengal of India has been competing as an invitee in the tournament which is contesting champions in respective national leagues in the Southeast Asian region.

In the Bengal-Persita game, leading scorer Baichung Bhutia opened the scoring for the Indians after he headed home a cross to take his tally to six goals in the tournament.

Persita equalized through Ilham Jayakusuma, who executed a penalty shot after Bengal's goalkeeper Janid Nandy was controversially charged with having tripped Mahruzar Nasution inside the box.

Bengal's winner came in the 75th minute when a cross from the right flank connected with Mutum Bijen Singh at the other end and he headed into the net to make it 2-1.

The loss means that Persita has crashed out leaving only Petrokimia Putra, which triumphed along with Perak FC of Malaysia in the other quarterfinal matches held in Gresik, East Java, on Sunday.

After the game, East Bengal coach, Subhash Bhowmick was absolutely livid over not only the controversial penalty against his team but also the way the organizers failed to respond to Ghosh's fate in a timely fashion. He blasted the organizers and said they were lacking in professionalism and hurting the development of Asian soccer.

"If we want to see Asian football (soccer) progress and develop, we cannot let these things happen," he said in disgust.

Meanwhile, Iswadi Idris from the organizing committee, told The Jakarta Post that his medical team had properly installed medical equipment around the stadium, but refused to say why help was so late in arriving.

East Bengal will play Petrokimia Putra, while Perak FC will take on BEC Tero Sasana of Thailand in the semifinal games to be staged at the Bung Karno stadium on Thursday.