Mumbai City and NorthEast United look for winning start in season of great expectations

Matchday 2 of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 season will see two revamped sides NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC battle it out for a strong start to their respective campaigns. Both clubs have brought in a number of new additions, and both sets of fans can expect an exciting game at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Saturday.

As far as the head-to-head in concerned, there have been 12 encounters between these two teams so far, with the Islanders winning seven of them. Thrice NorthEast United FC have come out on top and the rest of the games have ended in draws.

The Highlanders will be looking for a fresh start under new head coach Gerard Nus, especially since they are on a 14-match winless run from last season. Nus has heavily worked on the strike-force of NorthEast United FC this season with the signings of Kwesi Appiah and Idrissa Sylla, having in mind their perennial weakness in front of goal: the Highlanders have scored only 95 goals in 98 matches so far in their Hero ISL history.  

However, to bring about a big change in attitude, midfielder Federico Gallego will have to lead the way. The Uruguayan will look to replicate his form from the 2018-19 season when the Highlanders made it to the playoffs. And Nus highlighted his importance to the team.

“Federico Gallego is an important player for the club. Not only because of his past contributions. We expect a lot from him in the current squad. He welcomed the foreigners and helped them settle in the squad. He will be playing his third season and his performances will be key to the team this campaign,” Nus said during NorthEast United FC’s pre-match media interaction on Friday.       

Nus has plenty of talent and experience in the defence too, and will look to keep the Mumbai City FC attackers at bay through Ashutosh Mehta, Gurjinder Kumar, Benjamin Lambot and Dylan Fox.

Meanwhile, with a new head coach known for expansive football, Mumbai City FC will be looking to hit the ground running under Sergio Lobera.  Hugo Boumous, Bartholomew Ogbeche and Adam Le Fondre are some of the big names brought in by the Spanish head coach ahead of the season. Last season’s Hero of the league with FC Goa, Boumous scored 11 goals and provided 10 assists in 15 matches, becoming the first player to score and assist more than 10 goals in a single season.

Ogbeche, on the other hand, has 27 goals in 34 matches with his previous Hero ISL clubs -- Kerala Blasters FC and NorthEast United FC. And as far as le Fondre is concerned, he scored 20 goals in 26 matches last season with Sydney FC. The trio will be hot to handle for any team this season, not just the Highlanders. And in defence too, they have credible names like Mourtada Fall and Mandar Rao Dessai.

During his side’s pre-match media interaction, Lobera said he was confident about his players. “The first game is going to be difficult. It is going to be a difficult season as well because I think there are a lot of good teams. I think this is the most competitive season till now. I am positive that I am working very hard with my players and I am very confident in my players for the first games.”

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, Rakesh Pradhan, Wayne Vaz

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

Forwards: Britto PM, Idrissa Sylla, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Kwesi Appiah, Lalkhawpuimawia, Luis Machado, Suhair Vadakkepeedika

Mumbai City FC

Goalkeepers: Amrinder Singh, Nishit Shetty, Vikram Singh, Phurba Lachenpa

Defenders: Amey Ranawade, Valpuia, Mourtada Fall, Mehtab Singh, Mandar Rao Dessai, Tondonba Singh, Mohamad Rakip, Sarthak Golui

Midfielders: Ahmed Jahouh, Bidyananda Singh, Bipin Singh, Hernan Santana, Raynier Fernandes, Rowllin Borges, Sourav Das, Hugo Boumous, Cy Goddard, Asif Khan, Farukh Choudhary, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Vikram Partap Singh, Pranjal Bhumij

Forwards: Adam Le Fondre, Bartholomew Ogbeche

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 2: NorthEast United FC vs Mumbai City FC

Date: November 21 (Saturday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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