THE HISTORY-EYEING ISLANDERS CLASH WITH THE REVITALISED HIGHLANDERS
Can anything be sweeter for the Highlanders than a hat-trick of wins and an entry into the top 4? Mayhap, three points against the league leaders Mumbai City FC. The Islanders will be looking to avenge their only defeat in the league so far when they lock horns with the rejuvenated Highlanders in the GMC stadium at 7:30 pm. The Men in Red will try to clinch the maximum points with momentum and motivation on their side! When the Islanders will be looking to create a history of the longest unbeaten streak in the ISL, can the Highlanders be their kryptonite? Will Khalid make it 3 wins out of 3 by upsetting the heavyweights?
NORTH-EAST UNITED FC
The Highlanders have turned their fortunes and performance around under the gaffer Khalid Jamil. The team had two consecutive wins for the first time since 2018 and will also be confident going into the game as they are the only side to have defeated Mumbai in the league. However, the team does have the chinks in the armor which needs to be mended if they were to qualify for the playoffs, A victory, and they can enter the top 4.
The man to look for in this encounter will be the defender Benjamin Lambot, as Fox was seen hopping with discomfort on his thigh in the last match. Shereef alongside would be interesting to see as he did pretty well against ATKMB. It will be interesting to see who features as wing-backs; Gurjinder is out with suspension and Ashutosh is struggling with an injury. Apuia and Camara are expected to start in the mid-field. While the responsibility for providing the fireworks upfront will be under the in-form Gallego and Machado, Brown is expected to lead the line of attack. The defensive and the attacking units need to be at their best to get some points from this spectacular encounter. The team under their new gaffer is trying to play some football too, rather than opting for route one.
"We need to dictate the play. We need to control the game and yes if we don't have the ball, we have to defend well. We have to be patient with the ball, create chances and utilize it and that's the main aim for us," Assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew said in the pre-match conference (FirstPost). He also stretched the importance of the need to improve defensively.
MUMBAI CITY FC
Having won nine and drawn thrice, the Islanders are unbeaten in their last 12 games and are leading the table with 30 points. Lobera’s men are well-drilled as they have conceded just 5 times this season, the lowest by any team. The strong defensive unit is complemented by an equally prolific attack that has scored 19 times in the league so far. The team has a habit of scoring early to kill games and is dangerous from set-pieces. The team also has fluidity on the field and players often change position to trouble the markers; displaying the classic Lobera’s style of play. The likes of Mourtada Fall, Adam Le Fondre will be key for them. Borges is out due to suspension.
"For us, this is going to be a different game. But we have improved from our first match of the competition but North-East also (has improved). It's not easy to play against North-East now. We have to go 100 percent if we want to win," Sergio Lobera said in the pre-match conference. (Goal)
The Islanders have dropped points in their last few games and the Highlanders will look to continue their impressive form to keep their hopes for the play-offs alive.
Up the Highlanders
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