Semi-final 2, First-leg Preview: NorthEast FC look to upset ATK Mohun Bagan again
The first leg of Semi-final 2 of the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) will see NorthEast United FC face off against ATK Mohun Bagan at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday. The Highlanders extended their unbeaten run to 10 games after beating Kerala Blasters FC and securing the third spot in their last match, and will be looking to continue their rich vein of form. Meanwhile, ATK Mohun Bagan will be looking to alleviate their disappointment of not winning the League Shield with a win against the Highlanders.
NorthEast United FC won their last two matches to make it to the semi-finals, beating SC East Bengal and the Blasters comfortably. The form of their attackers, both foreign and Indian, of late has been a massive boost for the side. Suhair Vadakkepeedika scored in both of these matches, and even Lalengmawia found the net in their last match. And the Highlanders will eye taking advantage of a Kolkata side who have been inconsistent in defence of late.
Under Khalid Jamil, the Highlanders have scored 18 goals in nine games, conceding only 10. Apart from the defensive issues that ATK Mohun Bagan have been facing recently, another positive for the Highlanders could be that Mariners head coach Antonio Lopez Habas is winless in his three first-leg semi-final clashes in the Hero ISL so far, losing two and drawing one.
The recent form of ATK Mohun Bagan’s defence will be a concern for Habas. They have not kept a clean sheet in their last three games and have conceded five goals to boot. Be that as it may, the Mariners remain the meanest defence in the league this season having conceded just 15 goals in 20 matches.
The Mariners' attack, however, will take confidence from the form of Roy Krishna. The Fijian's 18-goal contribution (14 goals and four assists) in 20 matches is the most for any player this season. Although Krishna has not scored in their last two matches, he had scored eight goals in six games prior to them. He has also scored twice against the Highlanders this season and that should have him high on confidence on Saturday night. He is ably supported by David Williams (3 goals) and Marcelo Pereira (2 goals) as well as Manvir Singh, who has scored five goals and assisted three so far.
Jamil’s team have already tasted victory against the Mariners earlier in the season as the Highlanders came out triumphant 2-1 in late January. In that contest, it was Luis Machado and Federico Gallego who found the back of the net for the Highlanders. The side will be hoping for a similar performance and build a head of steam heading into their second-leg clash on Tuesday. That is easier said than done though. ATK Mohun Bagan is a top team and they have shown time and again this season, it’s not easy to get the better of them. Remember, they had beaten the Highlanders convincingly the first time these two teams had met this season.
ATK Mohun Bagan
Goalkeepers: Arindam Bhattacharja, Avilash Paul, Arsh Shaikh, Surajit Pramanik
Defenders: Tiri, Pritam Kotal, Prabir Das, Sandesh Jhingan, Subhasish Bose, Sumit Rathi, Salam Ranjan Singh
Midfielders: Pronay Halder, Javier Hernandez, Edu Garcia, Carl McHugh, Lenny Rodrigues, Jayesh Rane, Regin Michael, Sahil Sheikh, N Engson Singh, Samuel Lalmuanpuia
Forwards: David Williams, Roy Krishna, Manvir Singh, Md. Fardin Ali Molla, Komal Thatal, Marcelo Pereira
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
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2020-21 Semi-final 2, first leg: NorthEast United FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan
Date: March 6 (Saturday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV