ISL 2020-21 Preview: NorthEast United looks for points as SC East Bengal plays for pride

ISL 2020-21 Preview: Play-off contender NorthEast United FC will look to extend its unbeaten run under interim head coach Khalid Jamil when it takes on SC East Bengal on Tuesday.

Federico Gallego

NorthEast United FC is fifth on the ISL 2020-21 table, with a game in hand, and is well-positioned to claim one of two available playoff spots.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

NorthEast United SC will be bringing all its arsenal together to get the better of SC East Bengal when the two meet in a 19th round match of the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21), at the Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday.

The Highlanders have a realistic chance of making it to the play-offs and need the full quota of points to remain in the hunt. SC East Bengal, which is recovering from the setback of losing the second Kolkata derby against arch rival Mohun Bagan in the previous outing, has nothing left to play for besides pride.

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SC East Bengal, which made its transition to the ISL from I-League this season, failed repeatedly in the business end of the tournament and crashed out of the title contest. The side's performance in the last six matches show where it faltered – the attack. It managed just 13 shots on target which has been the reason behind it scoring just five goals in six matches.

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SC East Bengal assistant coach Tony Grant believed that his boys will be able to show their true quality when they face the Highlanders. “To play for this club, you have to be able to roll your sleeves up. It is a great test for our boys to show us their quality,” he said.

With nothing left to fight for in the current season, Grant said the match will be a good test for his team ahead of the next season. “A lot of these players had not played ISL and the jump is a huge jump. From day one, we had an eye on next year. And it’s really important that every club does that,” he said.

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Grant congratulated his opponent for being more consistent in the season. “I think they (NorthEast United) are great. I think they started the season really well and looking at their recruitment, they have got a good blend of youth (and experience) in their team. They are in the top four and they deserve to be up there. It’s going to be a big test for our lads. And that’s the best time you will get to see what your players are made of,” Grant added.

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NorthEast, which has shown great improvement under interim coach Khalid Jamil, has remained unbeaten in the last seven games. The key area of its improvement since Jamil took over has been the attack which has scored an impressive 14 goals. The Highlanders just need to keep up the tempo and net the maximum points in the remaining two games.

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“We concentrate on our game tomorrow and then will think about the last game against Kerala Blasters. Tomorrow is a very important game for us,” said NorthEast United’s assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew.

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“We have to play very well. We have to defend well, we have to attack well, we have to create chances and then utilise them and give our 100 percent. This is a game we cannot take easy. We have to show character and give our best throughout 90 minutes and hopefully, we will get three points tomorrow," Alison added.

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