NorthEast United FC head coach Juan Pedro Benali recognises the challenge that his side face in their upcoming game as NorthEast United FC play FC Goa in matchweek 12 of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Friday.

The Highlanders sit in eighth position in the league table with 11 points from 11 games. They have two wins, five draws and four losses so far this season.

FC Goa sit in second position in the league table with 23 points from nine games. They have seven wins and two draws so far this season. They are the only side to remain unbeaten so far this season.

Despite the daunting nature of the challenge, Benali feels his team will be ready for this fixture.

“We are playing against the strongest team at this moment in the ISL. A team with great players who don't concede goals easily, very dangerous up front and have players with a lot of quality,” Benali stated in the pre-match press conference.

“Tactically they are very strong. They have a great coach on the bench,” he further said.

“They are playing very well. We hope we will be present for this challenge and enjoy the game,” he added.

NorthEast United FC had started this season on a positive note with two wins and two draws from their first four games. They had scored seven goals in this period and conceded thrice. However, they have been winless since and have accrued a total of two points from their last four games.

The league is at the halfway mark and Benali wants his team to end the first half of the season on a positive note.

“We hope to finish in the best way possible. Our objective is clear to play as best we can and make our players, staff, fans and management proud of the team,” Benali said.

“There are three possibilities, we win, draw or not win. We are going as usual. We are going to try to do our best in the game. Trying to spring a surprise. We have nothing to lose,” he added.

We are improving: Michel Zabaco

NorthEast United FC defender Michel Zabaco joined head coach Juan Pedro Benali in the pre-match press conference. The Spaniard has started in 10 games this season for the club and has also scored a goal this season.

NorthEast United FC drew their previous game away to Bengaluru FC by a 1-1 scoreline. They conceded a very late goal which ended their hopes for three points in the game.

Zabaco feels that his side played well throughout the game but they could not maintain their performance level during the last minutes of the game.

“I think we played a good game. We did a tough job and physical work but it's true that we didn't play good in the last few minutes,” he said.

“We have analysed this,” he added.

Zabaco is having a positive time in the league and feels that NorthEast United FC are slowly getting better in every game this season.

“I am enjoying the league. I think that we are improving,” he said.

“We are a team and we are competitive. I think that we were competitive in every game except in the East Bengal FC game,” he further said.

“I am happy with my teammates and also with the staff. We are getting better and we have to continue,” he added.