NorthEast United FC must defy odds
NEUFC to face Bengaluru FC in first leg of semis today
Our Sports Reporter
GUWAHATI: NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) will take on table-toppers Bengaluru FC in their maiden semifinal of the Indian Super League here on Thursday. The first leg will kick off at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium at 7.30 pm.
NEUFC, owned by cine star John Abraham, struggled to break into the top four during the earlier seasons. They came close twice, and now they finally have been able to break the jinx this year.
Eelco Schattorie, coach of local outfit, would look to grab the opportunity with both hands but he is a worried person. The reason is the non-availability of several key players in the game because of different reasons.
Talking to the mediapersons during the pre-match press conference Schattorie today said, “I think in the last 10-12 games, I’m trying to fix a puzzle and I am frustrated. We have only 16 players as we got another red card in the last game. We have some other issues too. I wish I had a little more choice going into this game.”
NorthEast United have never won against Bengaluru FC in four head-to-head clashes while Bengaluru have notched three wins. However, this season NEUFC put up a good challenge against Bengaluru FC during their two games in the championship. They almost tasted victory until Chencho Gyletshen played spoilsport with an equalizer in added time in the game which was hosted by NEUFC. In the away game in Bengaluru, NorthEast were unlucky not to pocket a point.
Taking a question on his opponent, the coach said, “I think they are the best club in India. That means we will be facing good players. We played them twice this season and both times we played really well. They got away here in the last minute of extra time. In their home, we should have won.”
Meanwhile, on form and past record, Bengaluru will be the favourites but their coach Cuadrat knows he cannot take anything for granted.
“We have got 74 points in two league campaigns (2017-18 and 2018-19) and the next team on the list is FC Goa with 64 points. But I have to tell you that it counts for nothing if we lose in the play-offs or the final. That is the rule of the competition and we accept that,” said Cuadrat.
He also added that there is no fitness-related problem in the team and all the players on first XI are available for this match.
Also read: Local Sports