Chennaiyin FC will play hosts to NorthEast United FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on April 9, Tuesday, at 7:30 pm IST.

This is a game that will have a straightforward impact in deciding the sixth team that will qualify for the ISL playoffs. East Bengal FC, Chennaiyin FC, and NorthEast United FC are the three teams vying for that final vacant spot to secure a place in the top-six. Given that two of these teams are squaring off against each other so late in the season, it gives both of them a chance to run away with this golden opportunity fronted to them.

The Marina Machans have 24 points whereas the Highlanders have 23 from 20 games each. They are placed seventh and eighth in the standings respectively. A win here will take Chennaiyin FC into the top-six for the time being, beating East Bengal FC (24 points from 21 games) by two points. Similarly, a victory will help NorthEast United FC to edge past the Red & Gold Brigade temporarily.

Needless to say, there’s a lot at stake in this encounter, which will be crucial in determining the prospects of both teams who have sparked a comeback this campaign under the aegis of a new head coach after disappointing seasons last time around.

What’s at stake?

Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin FC have produced a late surge towards the playoffs, winning their last two games on the bounce. Inconsistencies have riddled their run this year, having failed to win three matches on a trot so far. The last time they won thrice in a row in the ISL was back in February 2023. However, head coach Owen Coyle will take confidence from his record against the Highlanders, boasting of a 57.1% win rate against them in his seven face-offs against the club.

Only against the Mohun Bagan Super Giant has Coyle notched a better success rate so far, i.e. 67%. They have been successful in breaking attacks of the opposition in the middle, whilst simultaneously being watchful of their discipline as well. For instance, Chennaiyin FC are averaging 13.8 fouls conceded per game in the current ISL season, the highest such aggregate by any side in the competition; however, their tally of 40 yellow cards is the third lowest for any side this term.

NorthEast United FC

NorthEast United FC will be eyeing their third league double over Chennaiyin FC, having won the reverse fixture by 3-0 earlier this season. In fact, against no other team in the league the Marina Machans have recorded multiple league doubles. The Highlanders have scored in each of their previous six matches on the road, which is their longest such run of games and the second-longest active streak by any team in the ISL, after FC Goa (8).

They will be aiming to take shots at the Chennaiyin FC goal from distance, having netted eight times from outside of the box in the current campaign. Moreover, the Marina Machans have given away eight such goals, which is the most amongst all teams this season. NorthEast United FC will bank on their international stars to deliver the goods in this clash, with all eyes on the likes of Nestor Albiach, Michel Zabaco, Mohammed Ali Bemammer, amongst others.

Key Players to Watch Out

Rahim Ali (Chennaiyin FC)

Rahim Ali scored the winner in the last game of the Marina Machans against Jamshedpur FC, demonstrating sublime footwork and decisiveness inside the box. The forward has struck twice and assisted once, and has made 37 touches in the box of the opposition. He has made seven successful dribbles and key passes, in addition to creating eight goal-scoring chances. Rahim has averaged 16 passes per game, making 38 recoveries, winning 46 duels, and has notched a 12.5% goal conversion rate. Rahim will want to have an impact on the proceedings regardless of whether he starts the game or comes off the bench.

Nestor Albiach (NorthEast United FC)

Nestor Albiach has scored four goals and assisted thrice in his 18 appearances in ISL 2023-24. He has averaged 29 passes at 73% accuracy, helping the Highlanders set the tempo of the game. Nestor has delivered 17 key passes, making 19 successful dribbles, creating 20 goal-scoring opportunities, taking 17 shots on target so far. Nestor has won 57 aerial duels, making 44 recoveries, and has won 107 duels until now. Defensively, Nestor has made four interceptions and 15 clearances, delivering contributions in both facets of the game for NorthEast United FC.

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Played – 19

NorthEast United FC – 7

Chennaiyin FC – 7

Draws – 5

Trivia: Ryan Edwards (Chennaiyin FC) has recorded a duel success rate of 82% in 2024 in the current ISL season.

Team Talk

 “After the last two games, I say this is the time to be consistent, this is the time to step up. It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. We have a great opportunity to achieve the playoffs spots,” Chennaiyin FC Head Coach Owen Coyle said in the pre-match press conference.

“We have a final tomorrow. It won’t be easy. Chennaiyin FC is a tough, strong, physical team, with very good technical players, and a great coach! Both of us know each other very well, so it should be a special game,” NorthEast United FC Head Coach Juan Pedro Benali said prior to the game.

ISL Fantasy

Nestor Albiach (4.1cr)

Has accumulated 67 ISL fantasy points this season

Jithin M.S. (3.8cr)

Has garnered 58 ISL fantasy points this term

Rafael Crivellaro (6.5cr)

Has been selected by 65% of ISL fantasy users in their team

If not registered already, fans can participate in the overall league or club-based leagues based on their preferences. Create private leagues, inviting friends and fellow football aficionados to compete. Prizes include a Sony PlayStation ®️ ️5 gaming console, EA Sports FC 24, signed club merchandise, and a Gift Card worth INR 20,000, which will be awarded to 100 winners at the end of the season. Sign up at:

Where to Watch

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.