ISL 2020-21 preview: Resurgent NorthEast United looks to snap Goa's unbeaten streak

ISL 2020-21: Resurgent NorthEast United FC takes on fourth-placed FC Goa in match 82 of the 2020-21 Indian Super League season in Vasco.

Both NorthEast United FC and FC Goa have five wins, six draws, three losses and 19 goals so far in the ongoing ISL edition.   -  SPORTZPICS/ISL

NorthEast United's resurgence under interim coach Khalid Jamil has been phenomenal. The team has claimed three consecutive victories and is within touching distance of a playoffs spot.

In its quest to reach the next stage of the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21), NEUFC will face fourth-placed FC Goa, which is ahead of it only on goal difference, at Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Thursday.

NorthEast United vs FC Goa: LIVE blog

Both sides have five wins, six draws, three losses and 19 goals so far in the ongoing ISL edition and need to bag three points to move above Hyderabad FC into third in the standings. A loss for either team will be a huge blow considering the number of mid-table clubs still with a chance to make the semifinals.

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Goa is unbeaten in seven matches, having won three and drawn four. The Gaurs will be boosted by Igor Angulo's return to full fitness. The Spanish striker who leads the ISL 2020-21 Golden Boot standings scored against SC East Bengal after a four-game goalless run.

Fellow countrymen Jorge Ortiz (five goals) and Alberto Noguera (five assists) have provided ample support to Angulo in the attack. However, FCG has often conceded equalising goals from winning positions and kept only two clean sheets this season, the second least after Odisha FC.

Manager Juan Ferrando was busy during the January transfer window, signing four players -- goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh from ATK Mohun Bagan, defender Adil Khan on loan from Hyderabad FC, midfielders Amarjit Singh and Glan Martins from Jamshedpur FC and ATKMB, respectively. He let go of Seiminlen Doungel (on loan to JFC) and Lenny Rodrigues (ATKMB) too.

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"I feel pressure all the time. It's good for Indian Football because there is only a difference of three to four points between teams. It's good for us because we aren't relaxed. Every game is important, and our mentality is to get three points," Ferrando told during the pre-match press conference, indicating that he's happy to embrace the tournament's pressure.

The gaffer also claimed that he was impressed with the style of play of his upcoming opponent.

"NorthEast United players are always happy. They are enjoying every minute of every clash. The ambience in their dressing room will be nice. They won difficult contests and have gained lots of positives."

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Meanwhile, the Highlanders' newest recruit -- Deshorn Brown from Bengaluru FC -- has already made an impact by scoring three goals in as many outings. He has filled in perfectly for Kwesi Appiah, who is out with a long-term injury.

Brown's inclusion in the NorthEast squad has eased the workload of Federico Gallego (two goals and four assists) and Luis Machado (four goals and one assist). Assistant manager Alison Kharsyntiew credited his new boss Jamil for NEUFC's turnaround since the departure of Gerard Nus.

"I would like to give credit to coach Khalid, the technical director, all the coaching staff and the players. We haven't changed anything, but only focused on strengthening our attacking and defending principles to play better football," he said before his outfit's next match.

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Alison added that the Highlanders were wary of the threat Goa can possess.

"They are a good team with good players and a good coach. We have analysed them. We have to approach the game well and give our best. We plan to go game by game. We have to be consistent. That's the most important thing," he concluded.

The injured centre-back Dylan Fox's availability is still a doubt for NEUFC, while the Gaurs will be without their skipper Edu Bedia who was sent off in the encounter against SCEB.