Still out of breath, aren’t we? What a night it was. What a game the boys played. Those men fought with resilience, until the last minute. Everything was spot on, the defence, the runs, the counter attacks. The hill stood tall and strong against the Eastern sea.
Let’s start off with the ever present and steel of defence. Big Ben was solid as usual with his tackles and aerial prowess. The new ‘Sheriff’ in town became quite Mashoor among the coaching staff already, but he showed his potential to everyone else by the way he marshaled the back line and partnered Lambot. Make no mistake with Ashutosh Mehta’s performance as he was subbed off. The gaffer mentioned coming of games thick and fast and the opportunity and availability of players in that position as the reason for his substitution.
The midfield was as brilliant as it could be. North-East started off with a 4-3-3 formation with Machado in place of Gallego, alongside the ever-present Khassa ‘The Bull’ Camara, and the gem Apuia. While Camara’s job to block passing lanes was done stupendously well, the dirty work of chasing and turning defence into attack were upon the young shoulders of Apuia, and the boy did it with ease. It was like watching Luka Modric from his early days of Real Madrid career. While comparisons are subjective, the no. 45 proved once again why he is one of the most promising youngsters of Indian football.
The Highlanders started with both the top scorers of this season together with Appiah on the wings and Sylla as the focal point. Both of them combined for the first goal of the game, the 100th for the club as Appiah burst through the right wing to put in a low, powerful ball towards Idrissa that turned into a pinball to hit the striker, then the defender and eventually rolling into the corner. Fortune favours the brave, and brave were the redmen. Ninthoi had another good game showing glimpses of what he can actually do with his mazy runs and body feints that made the East Bengal wing back’s head wiggle like a broken pendulum. Fans would however expect a bit more from him in making passes, but we are sure both the coaching staff and the lad are well aware of it considering the immense talent that he has.
The talk of the night was the second goal. Oh Charra! The Mizo hitman ran 50-60 yards in a perfect counter attack from one end of the field to another to slot home the winning goal with a perfectly weighted cross from VP Suhair who would be rejoicing the opportunity to show what he can do as well.
The Highlanders erupted as the game was put to bed in a very professional, disciplined and resilient performance. As Coach Nus said, its still too early, and lot of work to be done, but this was a night to remember and a performance worthy of praise. With heart of steel, the redmen fought, and victorious they emerged. Long may that continue.
Up the Highlanders
We Walk Through This Together