Can the Highlanders resuscitate their campaign? Or is it too late for a comeback? Questions of these sorts are troubling the Highlanders. And what better way to get an answer, than to watch the Men in Red in action when they will square off against the Blues in Vasco at 1930 hours! There is only a single point separating the two sides that are sitting at sixth and seventh position in the league. This will be a crucial fixture for both the teams as they will like to put an end to the poor run of form.
Despite a promising start to the campaign, the Highlanders are winless in their last six games and losing three of them. Goals have dried up, the mid-field is no longer dominating the play and the defense is unable to maintain their structure in vital moments of the game. However, the biggest headache is their lacks of finishing in the final third as the plethora of chances created are going astray. This was clearly evident in the last match against HFC, as only two were converted from the nine shots that were on target. Sylla’s display has been particularly poor as he did not do himself a favor by failing to capitalize on many chances, including a point blank header.
North East United’s defense is also under criticism after conceding four in the last game. Mashoor needs to play at his best level if he wants to challenge Fox and Lambot for his position. The defensive duty of the wing backs has also to improve as Gurjinder Kumar did not have his best show last time. Apuia is expected to be back with Camara, as Fanai failed to have any impact on the match. The two well-performing men Gallego and Machado are expected to start. Ninthoi’s speed and skills were certainly missed in the last game. But interestingly, fans are demanding Suhair to be the fan to lead the attack instead of Sylla.
“Tomorrow is our first game of the second leg of the season and it's a new day, a new beginning for us. I'm sure that the players and the team as a whole can give a good performance tomorrow." North East United’s assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew said in the pre-match conference. The Highlanders will be hoping for some much needed points to get their season back on track.
The Blues are also on a poor run of form as they are without a win in their last four games, and is at sixth position with 12 points from 10 games. After Carles Cuadrat's departure, Bengaluru FC’s interim coach Naushad Moosa is having a hard time at the camp to get his philosophy and ideas into action. The team which surely does not lack quality and has been one of the favorites before the start of the campaign; as the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Cleiton Silva and Udanta Singh has the ability to get a goal from nowhere. But the Blues’ defense has been porous, and the attacking prowess has also been less threatening.
"Before the game (against East Bengal), the message was not to worry about the result. No matter what happens, we come out with the feeling that we gave our 100%. Of course, winning is important. But the last match, the most important thing was for them to have faith in me in the way we want to play. I feel I was successful in doing that. That will help us in the next game." Naushad Moosa said in the pre-match conference.
When the teams last clashed, the Highlanders with a ‘never say die’ attitude made a brilliant comeback to score two goals and grab one point. The Highlander Brigade will be hoping for similar attitude and a much better display of performance than is recently being showcased by the team. When the two teams will lock horns in an evenly poised fixture at Vasco, we predict a win for the Highlanders by two goals to one.