ISL 2019-20: NorthEast takes on newcomer Odisha FC

NorthEast United will look bounce back from opening defeat to Bengaluru when its hosts first-timer Odisha FC at Guwahati.

Odisha FC players take part in a training session ahead of the match against NorthEast United FC.   -  ISL Media

NorthEast United FC and Odisha FC go in search of their first win of the Indian Super League 2019-20 as the sides lock horns at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday.

NorthEast United started its campaign with a goalless draw away from home to Bengaluru FC while Odisha FC suffered a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Jamshedpur FC in its ISL debut.

The Highlanders will count on home support to help them notch their first win and kickstart the campaign.

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Head coach Robert Jarni would have been pleased with the way the team defended against a strong Bengaluru FC, with Mislav Komorski and Kai Heerings looking solid as a central defensive partnership. Colombian midfielder Jose Leudo was an efficient screen for them, sitting deep in midfield and snuffing out opposition moves.

“I am happy with the point (against Bengaluru FC). The team worked hard against the defending champions. Now at home, we will look to play more attacking football. We are ready for that kind of football as well,” Jarni said ahead of Saturday's clash.

However, the Croatian will want his forward line to start converting chances. With Uruguayan attacking midfielder Martin Chaves looking sharp against Bengaluru, star striker Asamoah Gyan can again expect good service.

“He (Gyan) had good chances to score (against Bengaluru). It is always difficult to create chances against Bengaluru. Everybody knows him here, he is a very important player for us,” said the coach.

 

For Odisha, the game will be all about making its opportunities count. It was caught out on the counter numerous times against Jamshedpur in the previous game despite playing against 10 men. Coach Josep Gombau would have been left frustrated with how his team conceded a late goal. The defence, led by Carlos Delgado, needs to buckle up against the likes of Gyan and Chaves.

Given that the Spaniard advocates a possession-based philosophy, Odisha needs to remain cautious against counter-attacks.

“We have our own way to play. We respect the team we are playing against a lot. We’re satisfied with our players. We discussed the result (against Jamshedpur) with all players. We had a few chances, but we couldn’t score,” said Gombau.

In Aridane Santana, Odisha seems to have a potent goalscorer, if his smart finish against Jamshedpur is anything to go by. Former Bengaluru FC midfielder Xisco Hernandez also impressed in that game and more of the same will be expected from them against a difficult opponent.

The teams do not have any major fitness concerns and can be expected to have a go at each other and grab that all-important first win of the season.

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