Match 104 Preview: Top-four contender NorthEast United take on SC East Bengal

NorthEast United FC face off against SC East Bengal in match 104 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 at the Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday. The Highlanders need a win to keep their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals intact, while SC East Bengal will be looking to finish their campaign on a strong note with some positive results from their two remaining matches this season.

Hero ISL 2020-21: Click here to predict where your favourite team will finish this season.

The Red and Gold Brigade lost 3-1 to ATK Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata Derby last time around. They failed to capitalize on their few chances and their only goal from the game was an own goal. However, their biggest concern heading into the game against NorthEast will be their defensive frailties that’s held them back this season and has played a role in the Kolkata club winning just one of their last eight matches.

SC East Bengal have managed to keep just three clean sheets this season despite roping in seasoned Hero ISL campaigner and custodian Subrata Paul in the winter transfer window. They have conceded 25 goals so far and eight of them have come during the final 15 minutes of games when they seem, particularly, susceptible. Against their city rivals, it was skipper Daniel Fox’s mistake that gave the Mariners a lead in the second half.

"The derby was a tough result to take... we have had an eye on next season more than this season. We have brought in a couple of players who have improved us. The Highlanders have done great. They started the season very well. The have a good blend of youth in the team and they deserve to be in the top four. It's going to be a test but that's the best time to see what your players are made of,” SC East Bengal’s assistant coach Tony Grant said ahead of the game.

Meanwhile, NorthEast United’s unbeaten run of eight matches has pushed them into contention for a top four spot. A lot of this progress is down to their marked improvement in the attacking third. The Highlanders have scored 27 goals in 18 matches this season, and 15 of these goals have come during the ongoing unbeaten run.

One of the Highlanders’ best players during this purple patch has been Luis Machado. The Portuguese winger is currently the club’s highest goal-scorer (7) and netted from the spot to earn a point for his team in their last match against Chennaiyin FC. Machado’s form coupled with his strong understanding with playmaker Federico Gallego, who has four goals and six assists himself, should cause a lot of issues for their opponents’ leaky defence. Striker Deshorn Brown, who has been in fine form since his winter transfer window move from Bengaluru FC to NorthEast, will be another attacking threat for the Highlanders.

“We have to play very well against SC East Bengal. We have to defend and attack well, create chances and utilize the ones that we have. We have to give our 100%. They (SC East Bengal) lost 3-1 against ATK Mohun Bagan in the last game. But this is a game we cannot take easy. We should give our best efforts in the 90 minutes and hopefully we will get the three points,” NorthEast’s assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew said ahead of the match.

NorthEast scored two goals to seal a win in the reverse fixture between the teams back in December. It was also the Highlanders’ last win with former head coach Gerard Nus at the helm before his departure in January. Playing against an SC East Bengal side with nothing to lose, NorthEast will hope to secure the three points and boost their chances of a top-four finish.

Squads:

SC East Bengal

Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumder, Mirshad Michu, Suvam Sen, Subrata Paul

Defenders: Daniel Fox, Scott Neville, Narayan Das, Gurtej Singh, N Rohen Singh, Lalramchullova, Rana Gharami, Anil Chawan, Raju Gaikwad, Ankit Mukherjee, Sarthak Golui

Midfielders: Sehnaj Singh, Matti Steinmann, Jacques Maghoma, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Wahengbam Luwang, Bikash Jairu, Yumnam Singh, Surchandra Singh, Loken Meitei, Mohammed Rafique, Aaron Joshua Holloway, Anthony Pilkington, Milan Singh, Haobam Singh, Ajay Chhetri, Sourav Das

Forwards: Balwant Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, CK Vineeth, Girik Khosla, Harmanpreet Singh, Bright Enobakhare

NorthEast United FC

Goalkeepers: Gurmeet, Nikhil Deka, Sanjiban Ghosh, Subhasish Roy

Defenders: Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar, Mashoor Shereef, Nabin Rabha, Nim Dorjee, Provat Lakra, Wayne Vaz

Midfielders: Federico Gallego, Imran Khan, Khassa Camara, Lalengmawia, Lalrempuia Fanai, Pragyan Gogoi, Rochharzela

Forwards: Britto PM, Idrissa Sylla, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Deshorn Brown, Lalkhawpuimawia, Luis Machado, Suhair Vadakkepeedika

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 104: SC East Bengal vs NorthEast United FC

Date: February 23 (Tuesday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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