By breaking the dreams of the Islanders of creating history, and by making dreams of the Highlanders by creating a team record of a hat-trick of wins in the last game – North East United FC will be in action with a task of taming the Gaurs. The Highlanders have turned the table around after the appointment of Khalid Jamil who has injected a much needed breath of fresh air in the team. Both the teams are locked at 21 points from 14 games with the Gaurs and the Highlanders placed at 4th and 5th position respectively. The 82nd clash of the league will be played at the Tilak Maidan from 1930 hours. The Highlanders will take to the ground with a point to prove, a statement to make and announce its serious contention for a top 4 finish. As we head towards the business-end of the season, let’s get nothing less those maximum points.
NORTH EAST UNITED FC
The semi-final hopes have been revived by the rejuvenated Highlanders under their gaffer Khalid Jamil. A colossal statement was announced by the team after winning three games on the run, while defeating the two league toppers – Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan. However, there are areas of the field which needs attention and the team would certainly like to keep clean sheets to avoid nerve-racking, heart-pounding last minutes of the games.
The addition of Deshorn Brown has turned the corner for the attack of the Highlanders. He has scored thrice which includes a match-winning brace and is already a fan-favorite in the Highlands. Vital to him, will be the partnership of the highest scorer of the team Luis Machado and the midfield maestro Federico Gallego who just cannot stop creating opportunities. While there will be competition for the other attacker with the likes of Charra, Ninthoi, Suhair and Britto to be picked. The mid-field partnership of Apuia and Camara looks solid. The Highlanders have failed to keep a clean sheet in the last eight games and it will be interesting to see how Khalid fits the pieces of the puzzle after commendable performances by Nim and Lakra.
"They are a good team with good players and a good head coach. We have analysed them. We have to approach the game well and give our best. They still have good players in their squad [referring to Edu Bedia missing the game]. So, we have to be prepared and ready for them tomorrow," commented North East assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew in the pre-match conference.
The Gaurs will be looking to convert draws into wins after drawing the last three games in an unbeaten run of seven games. The team is known for their free-flowing style of the game and under their coach Juan Ferrando they have stuck to their identity.
The obvious threat to the Highlanders will be Igor Angulo who is the league’s top goal-scorer. However, they will be without the service of Edu Bedia and Brandon Fernandes. The Gaurs have shown character of getting points after going behind and delivering pile-drivers at the last minutes.
“Everybody can see from their games that their players are very happy. They are enjoying every game and every minute. Of course, the ambience in NorthEast’s dressing room must also be very nice right now because they have won their games and have won difficult games [of late]. Their players are enjoying themselves and are free on the pitch. Of course, there are a lot of positive points for NorthEast and for us it’s very important because it is necessary to control them with such emotions,” FC Goa gaffer Juan Ferrando said in the pre-match conference.
The 82nd enthralling encounter of the league will certainly be a mouth-watering clash as the team from the Highlands with momentum will lock horns with the Gaurs eyeing a top 4 finish. The battle promises much entertainment with heated exchanges and animated side-lines. The main focus in Vasco will however should be on the tactical side of the clash, as the race to the play-offs intensifies. We predict a score-line of 2-0 for the Highlanders.