November 16, 2016
KOLKATA: Atletico de Kolkata and NorthEast United FC will be forced to take a few risks as they fight for a place in the semi-finals of Hero Indian Super League.
Three points and three places separate the two teams in this edition of ISL at the moment, but coaches of both teams will be aware that tables can turn with three points at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, Kolkata, on Thursday.
Atletico de Kolkata, who won the opening edition of ISL in 2014, were unbeaten in the first five matches of the league and were cruising along nicely but they have already lost twice in the last four matches and know that any more slip-ups can cost them a place among the top four.
In the last match, Atletico de Kolkata had a great chance to solidify their position but the former champions allowed Delhi Dynamos to escape with a draw despite having a player advantage.
“I think we did a great job in the first half but did not have the same intensity in the second session,” Atletico de Kolkata coach reflected after the 2-2 draw against Delhi Dynamos.
More than Atletico de Kolkata, three points will be an absolute must for NorthEast United FC. The visitors started their campaign in fine form, winning three of their first four matches but they have failed to win any of their last five matches. Worse for NorthEast, they have failed to fire up front with only three different players scoring for them, the fewest tally by any team in ISL 2016.
The loss in the last match against FC Goa will be painful for Nelo Vingada’s side as they surrendered the early advantage and lost despite having an additional player on the field. The Portuguese coach assumed responsibility for the loss but has not given up.
“It was a big and strong defeat for me and we missed a very good chance to get three points, and yes after this defeat the morale is down but we are not finished as nobody has qualified yet. My target for the club is to reach the semi-finals but (the loss against FC Goa meant) we took two steps back,” said Vingada.
NorthEast United are the only team to lose four matches in a row but they will be encouraged with the return of top scorer Emiliano Alfaro and key midfielder Romaric. Alfaro was suspended for the last match with four bookings while an injured Romaric came on as a 79th minute substitute against Goa. Both are likely to start against ATK and play big roles.