NorthEast United FC will be hoping to lay their winless start to rest as they re-start their campaign under new Head Coach Vincenzo Annese when they face Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati on Saturday.

The Highlanders parted ways with Marco Balbul after losing their last game against Odisha FC. After losing all eight games, NorthEast United are sitting at the bottom of the table with no points this season, having conceded 18 goals and scored only four this season. The former Gokulam Kerala Head Coach Annese will look to change things and get the Highlanders off the mark this season. Annese comes with proven success having guided Gokulam Kerala to back-to-back Hero I-League titles in the last two years.

The 38-year-old Italian is already familiar with a couple of faces in the squad. Emil Benny and Jithin MS were both a part of the Gokulam team that lifted the Hero I-League trophy last season. NorthEast United FC will be eager to see what the new head coach has in store for them. (Club statistics)

“It is an honour to be a part of NorthEast United. It is great to know that the club is confident in me. I only think about the result of tomorrow and not the eight losses. I am excited after seeing the intended approach for the game tomorrow in the first training session,” said Annese. “I play to win, love to take risks, and love to attack. It will be a step-by-step process, but I know the way to make this team win. I can be arrogant, maybe I am. But I want the team to win,” he added.

Chennaiyin FC were handed their second successive defeat by Hyderabad FC last week. However, playing away from home could be a tad advantageous for Chennaiyin FC as their record on the road is better than the one at home this season.

The Marina Machans have won two out of the three games that they have played away from home, while, in their own backyard, they have managed to win just one out of five. In the last match, defender Vafa Hakhamaneshi had to be benched to allow Abdenasser El Khayati a start. Khayati assisted the only goal Chennaiyin FC scored in the match. Head coach Thomas Brdaric will be without right-back Ajith Kumar who was sent off after receiving a second yellow in the second half of the last match. (Club statistics)

“We are prepared for an important match tomorrow. It is a team that has been struggling lately, but we do not underestimate them because they have their strengths. They have a new coach with new ideas, but that does not change our preparation,” said Brdaric. “I wish Vincenzo all the best but tomorrow, we face his idea with our abilities. We have to keep our focus and implement our ideas in the match,” he added.

These two sides have met 16 times in the Hero ISL previously. The Highlanders have won six of those games, while Chennaiyin FC have been triumphant on five occasions. Five matches have ended in draws. (Hero ISL standings)