Indian Super League (ISL) side NorthEast United FC take on Downtown Heroes FC in their last match of Group D in the Durand Cup at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, in Guwahati, on Sunday.

The Highlanders need to secure all three points in order to progress into the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time.

Juan Pedro Benali’s side began their season with a 4-0 win over Shillong Lajong in which Parthib Gogoi scored a hat-trick. That win was followed by a hard-fought contest with FC Goa in which both sides shared the spoils. NorthEast United FC twice took the lead in the contest with the Gaurs with Manvir Singh scoring the opener in the first half & then forcing an own goal off Sandesh Jhingan in the second half.

As things stand in Group D, FC Goa have already booked their place in the last eight having amassed seven points, while NEUFC have four with a game in hand.

Three points will be enough for the home side to secure a place in the next round as one of the two best second-placed teams in the group stage, as no other second-placed teams from any group can attain seven points. In order to top the group, the Highlanders must defeat Downtown Heroes FC by a margin of at least six goals.

NorthEast United FC's head coach, Benali, is confident about securing three points from this match. He said: “Downtown Heroes FC have proven to be a formidable opponent. In their recent match where they posed a significant challenge to FC Goa. To progress in this tournament, we must bring our A-game and ensure we deliver a top-notch performance. Our focus is on the task at hand, and we're determined to secure a win to keep our tournament hopes alive.”

Jamshedpur FC take on Mohammedan SC in a must-win tie

In the other fixture on Sunday, Jamshedpur FC will face off against I-League side Mohammedan SC in a crucial match in Group B at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata.

Jamshedpur FC's reserves side displayed a commendable effort in the second match, bouncing back in the tournament after suffering a heavy defeat against Mumbai City FC in the opening match. The Men of Steel secured all three points against Indian Navy FT, thanks to a second-half goal from Ashley Koli.

As they shift their focus to the upcoming match, Jamshedpur FC Reserves head coach, Steven Dias, acknowledges the strength of the opposition. However, he believes his team will draw confidence from the previous victory and deliver another spirited performance against Mohammedan SC on Sunday.
“It's not going to be an easy match for us. They are a well-experienced I-League team. But after the performance of the last match, the boys are very positive. They are working hard for this match. I'm confident that we will give our best,” said Dias.
Mohammedan SC are also arriving with a 2-1 victory in their second match and will also strive for three points in this game. Dias acknowledges that his team delivered a stronger performance against the Navy but believes there is ample room for improvement, and they intend to address these aspects in the upcoming game.

“I am very happy with their performance (in the last match) but we (still) need to improve. We have to learn from our mistakes and play better in our next match,” Dias stated.