NorthEast look to keep top four ambitions on track with win over Delhi
With both Jamshedpur FC and ATK hot on their heels, NorthEast United FC will look to keep their play-off ambitions on track when they host Delhi Dynamos FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday.
The two teams have faced each other nine times in the past, with both sides winning three each.
After a stellar start to their campaign which propelled them to the top four, Eelco Schattorie's men have lost their way a little, picking up just a single win in their last six matches. Despite looking like favourites to clinch a coveted play-off spot earlier in the season, the slump has allowed the chasing pack to make up ground on them. Currently fourth in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) table, only three points separate the Highlanders from both Jamshedpur (5th) and ATK (6th), who are vying to break into the top four at the expense of NorthEast and each other. With the stakes higher than ever, NorthEast cannot afford to slip up any further and will be desperate for all three points on Thursday in order to keep the competition at an arm's length.
Despite their 2-1 loss to Bengaluru FC in their last match, the Highlanders will take heart from the performance which saw them go toe-to-toe or maybe even outplay the league leaders in large parts of the match. A similar performance garnished with a little more ruthless finishing from the likes of Bartholomew Ogbeche, Federico Gallego and Panagiotis Triadis may be enough to earn them the three important points on Thursday.
Here’s a look at NorthEast’s current season in numbers:
Unbeaten in their last three matches, Josep Gombau's men will be full of confidence going into the fixture. After a horrid start to their season, which required the Lions to wait for the 12th match for their maiden win of the campaign, their recent upturn in fortune has been quite remarkable. After back-to-back wins over Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC, the Lions put on a gritty defensive display in their last outing to hold the free-scoring FC Goa side to a goalless draw.
The Dynamos have been solid at the back of late, conceding just one goal in their last three fixtures. The likes of Gianni Zuiverloon, Marti Crespi and Narayan Das will be put to the test against a well-drilled NorthEast offence, but the result against Goa proves that they can shut out any attack on their day.
The Lions will be heavily dependant on Lallianzuala Chhangte and Nandhakumar Sekar’s pace and creativity down the wings to break down the Highlanders’ defence. Chhangte, in particular, has been their standout player with four goals and an assist to his name. Nandhakumar has also pitched in with a goal and two assists in the 11 matches he played so far. The duo will play a big role on Thursday considering NorthEast have been particularly vulnerable against crosses this season. The Highlanders have conceded 6 goals from crosses this season – the most by any team.
Here’s a look at Delhi’s current season in numbers:
NorthEast United FC: TP Rehenesh (GK), Reagan Singh, Mato Grgic, Mislav Komorski, Robert Lalthlamuana, Redeem Tlang, Jose Leudo, Rowllin Borges, Federico Gallego, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Bartholomew Ogbeche (C)
Delhi Dynamos FC: Francisco Dorronsoro (GK), Rana Gharami, Marti Crespi, Narayan Das, Gianni Zuiverloon, Nandhakumar Sekar, Marcos Tebar (C), Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bikramjit Singh, Rene Mihelic, Daniel Lalhlimpuia
DID YOU KNOW?
- NorthEast have won 3 times against Delhi and in all 3 occasions, they scored 2 goals.
- A win for NorthEast will end Delhi’s chances of qualifying for the top 4, even mathematically.
- Delhi have conceded just one goal in their last three matches.
Which youngster will drive his team to victory?
- Lalthathanga Khawlhring
- Lallianzuala Chhangte
Have your say in the comments section below.
Catch the match live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV at 7.30 PM.