Match 12 Preview: A battle of resolute defences as Chennaiyin FC face NorthEast United FC
With a loss and a draw in their first two games of the season, Khalid Jamil’s NorthEast United FC would be desperate to rack up their first win when they square off against Chennaiyin FC, who got off to a winning start in the eighth edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). The game shall be played at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Monday.
NorthEast United FC were the surprise package in the previous season as they qualified for the top four, stunning most teams with their resolute defence while being lethal on the counter. Chennaiyin FC had a forgettable 2020-21 campaign, as they finished eighth in the standings, winning just three games in the entire season.
NorthEast United FC
The Highlanders kicked off their campaign with a 4-2 loss to Bengaluru FC, as the Blues outclassed their opponents on the night. Going into the second game, Jamil made a few key changes which helped his side keep Kerala Blasters FC at bay, drawing 0-0. The scoreline could’ve looked a lot different had the Blasters converted two gilt-edged chances presented to them or if Subashish Roy Choudhary hadn’t made a couple of vital saves in the last quarter of the game.
Bozidar Bandovic had a victorious start to his life at Chennaiyin FC, as his side put on a determined display to mitigate the offensive threat that Hyderabad FC possessed, winning 1-0. Vlagyimir Koman scored the only goal on the night for Chennaiyin FC, as the Hungarian calmly slotted the ball beyond the reach of Laxmikant Kattimani from the penalty spot.
NorthEast United FC
After struggling defensively against Bengaluru FC as they fielded an all-Indian back four, NorthEast United FC switched to a center-back partnership of Hernan Santana and Patrick Flottmann for the Kerala Blasters game, which provided more solidity. As they head into the fixture against CFC, there are several injury concerns for the Highlanders.
Deshorn Brown picked up an injury in the previous game which rules him out for the coming game. Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha continues to be unavailable for the team, while Imran Khan is yet to join training as he is undergoing a rehabilitation program. A positive for the side is that Federico Gallego is 100% match fit and ready to take the field for the game on Monday.
The former champions opted for a major squad overhaul and many of their new signings featured in the first game. Six of their eleven players in the starting lineup made their club debut against Hyderabad FC. A massive concern for the club would be the absence of Rafael Crivellaro, as the Brazilian playmaker is set to be on the sidelines for four to five weeks.
The two sides have faced off against each other on 14 occasions over the course of seven seasons. NorthEast United FC have been the more successful side when it comes to the head-to-head record, winning six games, and losing just three. Last season, both fixtures between these teams ended in draws, with the more notable one being a dramatic 3-3 draw which saw Luis Machado score a 90th-minute goal to equalize and salvage a point for the Highlanders.
NorthEast United FC - Federico Gallego
Although the Uruguayan hasn’t started either of the first two games owing to lack of match fitness, he has been given the green light by the Highlanders’ medical team ahead of the game against Chennaiyin FC. Gallego scored four goals and registered six assists in the 2020-21 season, and also created the most chances in the Hero ISL in the previous campaign. He was Khalid Jamil’s go-to man in the latter half of the seventh edition, as he chipped in with several important goals and assists.
NorthEast United FC - Hernan Santana
The former Mumbai City FC player, Santana has become an integral part of Jamil’s plans as he has been handed starts in both games this season. His versatility is a valuable asset for his team, as he is comfortable playing in the defensive midfield position or at center-back. Santana has made six tackles, two blocks, and 58 passes thus far in the 2021-22 season.
Chennaiyin FC - Slavko Damjanovic
The center-back put in a shift against Hyderabad FC, as he was tasked with keeping the dangerous Bartholomew Ogbeche at bay. He made four tackles, seven clearances, and three blocks, and bagged the all-important clean sheet that his team needed. Damjanovic will be instrumental in keeping Chennaiyin FC’s defensive line stable against NorthEast United FC.
Chennaiyin FC - Vlagyimir Koman
Koman was adjudged the ‘Hero of the Match’ against Hyderabad FC for his brilliant all-round performance. The Hungarian looked comfortable in possession, as he had 59 touches of the ball and attempted 42 passes, while also working tirelessly off the ball, making eight tackles against HFC. He’ll be the creative spark for CFC against a gritty NorthEast United team.
The Highlanders’ favourite opponents: NorthEast United FC have won more games against Chennaiyin than any other opposition in the Hero ISL, while also scoring more goals against them than any other team.
Chennaiyin FC’s defensive brilliance: Bandovic’s team made 21 blocks in the game against Hyderabad FC, the most done by any team in a single game this season. Slavko Damjanovic made the most clearances in a single game in Hero ISL 2021-22, with seven clearances.
A perfect start: If Chennaiyin FC win their second match of the season, it will only be the second time in their history that they won the first two matches of their Hero ISL season. The last time they achieved this feat was Hero ISL 2014.
Match timings and telecast details
Match: NorthEast United FC vs Chennaiyin FC
Date: 29th November
Venue: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, Goa
Kick-off time: 7.30 pm
Telecast: Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 3, Hindi Commentary on Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports 1 Hindi HD, Star Sports 1 regional channels - Tamil, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu
Online Streaming: Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.