Match 82 Preview: High-flying NorthEast take on FC Goa with eye to top four

Match 82 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 will witness NorthEast United FC squaring off against FC Goa at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Thursday. Both teams are currently tied on 21 points in the standings with the Gaurs taking the fourth place and the Highlanders the fifth.

The head-to-head in this fixture favours FC Goa. The Gaurs have won five, lost two and drawn six of the past encounters between the sides. Their meeting earlier in the campaign also finished in a draw but the Highlanders will have momentum on their side when the two teams face off on Thursday.

NorthEast will head into the contest on the back of a four-match unbeaten run that’s seen them emerge victorious in each of their previous three outings. They have been in fine form ever since Khalid Jamil took over as interim head coach and the Highlanders will be eager to continue in a similar vein of form from now till the end of the league stage.

The addition of Jamaican striker Deshorn Brown has helped rejuvenate NothEast’s fortunes. He’s scored thrice for the Highlanders, including a match-winning brace in their last game. His partnership with Luis Machado – NorthEast’s top-scorer this season with four goals – seems to be blossoming and playmaker Federico Gallego has also raised his game of late to make NorthEast a force to reckon with. Defensively though they can do better having failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight games.

"They are a good team with good players and a good head coach. We have analysed them. We have to approach the game well and give our best. They still have good players in their squad [referring to Edu Bedia missing the game]. So, we have to be prepared and ready for them tomorrow," said NorthEast assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew ahead of the game.

Goa, meanwhile, will be desperate for a win after three consecutive draws. The Gaurs are unbeaten in their last seven matches – a run of results which has seen them draw four times. A free-scoring unit, Goa have netted 19 times so far and 12 of those strikes have come in the second period of matches, including seven in the last 15 minutes.

A resilient outfit that keeps playing till the final whistle, they have won 10 points after conceding the first goal. Conceding goals, in fact, has been an area of concern for the Gaurs and especially from set-pieces. Goa have conceded 10 goals from set-pieces so far and will need to do better in such situations against NorthEast.

Offensively, Goa have various options to hurt the opposition. Whether it’s the league’s top-scorer with 10 goals in Igor Angulo or his Spanish compatriot Jorge Ortiz, Goa have game-changers all around the pitch. Alberto Noguera, Brandon Fernandes and Alexander Jesuraj have also shown their capabilities by notching quite a few assists.

“Everybody can see from their games that their players are very happy. They are enjoying every game and every minute. Of course, the ambience in NorthEast’s dressing room must also be very nice right now because they have won their games and have won difficult games [of late]. Their players are enjoying themselves and are free on the pitch. Of course, there are a lot of positive points for NorthEast and for us it’s very important because it is necessary to control them with such emotions,” FC Goa head coach Juan Ferrando said ahead of the game.

Squads:

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

FC Goa

Goalkeepers: Mohammad Nawaz, Naveen Kumar, Shubham Dhas, Antonio D’Silva, Dheeraj Singh

Defenders: Sarineo Fernandes, Aiban Dohling, Ivan Gonzalez, James Donachie, Leander D’Cunha, Mohamed Ali, Sanson Pereira, Saviour Gama, Seriton Fernandes, Adil Khan

Midfielders: Alberto Noguera, Alexander Jesuraj, Brandon Fernandes, Edu Bedia, Flan Gomes, Jorge Mendoza, Nestor Dias, Phrangki Buam, Princeton Rebello, Redeem Tlang, Glan Martins

Forwards: Aaren D’Silva, Devendra Murgaokar, Igor Angulo, Ishan Pandita, Makan Chothe

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 82: NorthEast United FC vs FC Goa

Date: February 4 (Thursday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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