NorthEast United FC will be looking to consolidate its lead at the top of the table when the highlanders hosts defending champion Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Thursday. Perched at the top of the table with 10 points from five matches, the host hope to preserve the form that saw them winning both the matches at home in the first two rounds.
NorthEast United have energy and verve about them this season that has made them the surprise package of the ISL season 3. They play an attacking brand of football, one based on a solid defense and some steady goalkeeping thus far from Subrata Pal. NEUFC return after three away games from which they have picked up four valuable points, and will be looking for a third straight home win at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati. NEUFC face the current champions, Chennaiyin FC, against whom they have a favorable record. Only the first of their four games was drawn, with NorthEast picking up three successive wins. In fact, they have never conceded against Chennaiyin while playing at home.
Chennaiyin FC progress in the ISL season has been indifferent, drawing away to Atletico de Kolkata and then losing 3-1 to Delhi Dynamos in their first home match. A few changes were sprung by head coach Marco Materazzi in the last game against FC Goa, and the much-anticipated rematch of the 2015 final was settled in Chennaiyin’s favour by early goals from Hans Mulder and Mehrajuddin Wadoo. Materazzi has at all times found NorthEast United a tricky opposition, and he might decide to be more pragmatic in this away game and look to create a solid defensive base for his team to build on.
“This was one of the best games of ISL 2016. I am so proud to be the coach of these players and a member of this family which is NorthEast United. The immediate days after today are important for recovery. This was our fifth game in two weeks so the weight of the effort might be seen in the next game against Chennai” – NorthEast United head coach Nelo Vingada
“We came in with a whole new mentality and what I told my players is that if we put the heart in, the will, the hunger, then we can win. If not then we are not the same team and we can be at the bottom of the table. I have great consideration for Jerry [Lalrinzuala] because during training sessions he works hard, he fights. Players who work hard and train hard irrespective of their nationality or their height, and who deserve to play will play, and if he keeps performing like this then he will play again”– Chennaiyin FC head coach Marco Materazzi.
NorthEast United FC (4-1-3-2): Paul; Singh, Lazaretti, Zakora, Ghosh; Borges; N’dri, Halicharan, Katsumi; Alfaro, Velez.
Chennaiyin FC (4-3-2-1): Singh; L’alrinzuala, Riise, Sabia, Wadoo; Augusto, Blasi, Mulder; Rane, Sahni; Succi.
NEUFC return to home comforts after three successive away matches with 4 points from these matches. On the other hand, Chennaiyin will expect to keep it solid at the back and build from there with Sahni, Augusto and Mulder in fine form. However, we expect NEUFC to dominate and play an attacking brand of football with Alfaro and Velez in fine form. We are going for a comfortable home win.
Our Prediction: NorthEast United FC 2 – Chennaiyin FC 0