The Highlanders find themselves in a locus of bother, and the fans are left with more questions to ponder than answers to find solace. Debates and discourses have certainly divided the fans and pundits – some suggesting that the lack of success is due to individual errors at crucial moments while others advocating that the problem is structural. Amid all the speculations and talks, North East United FC will square off against Hyderabad FC in Vasco at 7:30 pm. There is not much separating the two sides, as the Nizams are only one point above the seventh-placed Highlanders. There is now no room for mistakes, as the race for the top four intensifies. We have got what it takes- let’s do it!
North East United FC
Once the streak of six unbeaten games has ended for the Highlanders, the team has suffered a poor run of form and points are not getting added to the tally. The inability to find the back of the net has certainly pinched some holes in the bag of points. While Kwesi Appiah is out for the foreseeable future, someone needs to tie the scoring laces on. While the marking during set-pieces is also a concern for the team, as it led to the conceding of two goals in the last game. The speed and energy in the wings need to be complemented with attacking pace and creativity through the middle.
The defense of the Highlanders will have to be on guard as they will face threats from a team that has netted 4 in their last game. Lambot and Fox are expected to start but the wing-backs certainly need to make more runs up and down the flanks. No major changes are expected in the mid-field but the likes of Apuia and Camara, will have to close the spaces between the lines of play. The department of attack is where all the eyes will be on. Sylla will have to more of a threat than just winning headers, turning, and twisting! He with the wingers must stretch the defense and be more direct in their approach.
"They (HFC) score a lot from set-pieces and Aridane is always a threat. He's got a great goal-scoring record from last season as well and this year, he has scored five. He is a big guy but they have so many other players in attack. We have to be at our best to know how to manage them and create chances and put the ball in the net."- Nus said in the pre-match conference.
Hyderabad ended their hat trick of defeats with a big blow to Chennaiyin. On a night when their talismanic striker Aridane was quieter, a big positive for Manolo Marquez would have been there being different goal-scorers. However, the department which North East can exploit is their defense as HFC is without a clean sheet in their last six games. Fran Sandaza and Nikhil Poojary will be unavailable for the match.
"They (NEUFC) are not in the best moment in terms of results but they have (taken points) against big opponents. They have good players and good coaches. They have young players with a lot of future. I like their style. They play with order and are fast on the wings. They are a dangerous team." – Marquez said in the pre-match conference.
The match will be an evenly poised clash between the two mid-table teams eyeing for the top four, which can be achieved tomorrow with a victory. When the two teams have locked horns in the earlier season, both sides have won once. This will be a crucial fixture for the Highlanders as they will look to get their season back on track.
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