Early on Wednesday news broke that Selangor FAs overseas recruit Ramez Dayoub was banned for life by the Lebanese Football Association for his alleged involvement in match-fixing.
This unexpected setback rocked the Malaysian club ahead of their AFC Cup Group H opener against East Bengal at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Dayoub was one of the 24 footballers sanctioned by his countrys football association,following an investigation by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Dayoub joined Selangor last year and had made a mark with his towering presence in central defence.
Without Dayoub,the visitors looked clueless about how to stop East Bengal from repeatedly making goal-bound forays. The 1-0 scoreline,thanks to a Lalrindika Ralte strike,in East Bengals favour spoke volumes of the missed opportunities.
However,it was clear that Selangor found it hard to focus on the game after Ramez,who watched the game from the VIP enclosure,was handed the life ban.
Selangor coach Irfan Bakti,however,stood by the beleaguered player. The club will support Dayoub in this period of crisis, Bakti said. East Bengal captain Sanju Pradhan said that the controversy had played into their hands. We had the psychological edge going into this game, he said.
The win meant East Bengal got off to a positive start,unlike Churchill Brothers,who had been thrashed 0-3 by Hong Kongs champion side,Kitchee Sports Club in an away match on Tuesday. This is East Bengals fourth consecutive participation and seventh overall in the AFC Cup.