ISL 2020-21 Preview: NorthEast United hopes to seal playoff berth

NEUFC coach Khalid Jamil has meandered his team to victory from difficult situations and now requires just a point to cement a top four finish

Khalid Jamil has instructed his team not to take struggling Kerala Blasters lightly.   -  ISL

NorthEast United FC will look to continue its winning run and seal a place in the top-four when it clashes with Kerala Blasters in a Indian Super League match at the Tilak Maidan Stadium here on Friday.

Ever since Khalid Jamil took charge, the Highlanders have grown in confidence and have produced stunning results from some difficult games.

FOLLOW LIVE | ISL 2020-21 highlights: NorthEast United beats Kerala Blasters 2-0

Unbeaten in its last eight games, NorthEast United, under Jamil, has taken 18 points. Only ATK Mohun Bagan (20) has more points. Even a draw on Friday will be enough for the Guwahati-based side to cement its position in the top four and ensure its second-ever appearance in the knockout phase.

READ: NorthEast United beats East Bengal 2-1

Kerala has been on a barren run and lie second from last, but Jamil urged his side not to take their opponents lightly.

"They (Kerala Blasters) are a good team. They have talented players and so we will have to prepare. It will be a difficult game. We shouldn't take this match lightly. We must fight," he said.

NEUFC might need just a point but Jamil was in no mood to settle for a draw.

"We are not thinking about anything else. The preparations are the same. There are no changes in anything. The idea is to go there and give your best and have to be ready in all aspects," he said.

Jamil has enjoyed success earlier. However, a win or a draw against Kerala will not only stretch his unbeaten run to nine games, but will also make him the first Indian manager to have managed more than three league sides and qualified for the playoffs.

READ: Ray of hope for NorthEast United

Jamil rated his NEUFC assignment as the toughest to date. "It's a big challenge here in ISL. Here we are dealing with good teams in the Hero ISL. There are quality players and coaches. So this is a different challenge," he said.

Kerala is without a win in its last seven league games. With nothing but just pride to play for, interim coach Ishfaq Ahmed will be looking to end the season on a high.

"The matches are very similar to everyone. For us, we definitely want to win. They want to win. They have a little bit of extra pressure. For us, it's another opportunity to sign off from the league on a high," said Ahmed.

"We are not thinking about what they (NEUFC) want. We are thinking about us and what we have to do." However, Kerala have failed to record a single win against their opponents in the last five meetings. NEUFC won once and the remaining matches ended in draws.