ISL: NorthEast braces for Chennaiyin’s visit

NorthEast United FC has just seven points from nine matches and needs a string of wins in the second half of the campaign to entertain any hopes of making it to the play-offs.

New coach Avram Grant, formerly with Chelsea FC, has tried to inspire the team but it still suffered defeat in the last match against ATK at home.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

NorthEast United FC will not be short on motivation as it hosts table-topper Chennaiyin FC in a bid to rescue its campaign in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) here on Thursday.

NorthEast United FC has just seven points from nine matches and needs a string of wins in the second half of the campaign to entertain any hopes of making it to the play-offs.

New coach Avram Grant, formerly with Chelsea FC, has tried to inspire the team but it still suffered defeat in the last match against ATK at home.

All is still not lost for NorthEast United, and assistant coach Eelco Schattorie can see that his team is still up for a fight.

“The overall atmosphere is fine. Players have the intention to do their job. They are motivated to do something together. Regarding the team gelling or getting tactics implemented, that always takes time, specially offensively. Defensively we don’t have too many problems,” Schattorie said during the pre-match media interaction.

NorthEast United will battle for points against the table-topper and Schattorie felt the coaching staff will not have to do much on the motivation bit.

“We play the number one team and normally as a coach you don’t have to motivate anyone if you play the number one in the league,” he said.

NorthEast United meanwhile has signed Helio Pinto as its additional (eighth) international player and the former Benfica midfielder could have a role to play.

Chennaiyin FC, too, won’t need too much of prep talk from coach John Gregory as it attempts to win as many matches possible to secure its position at the top of the table.

“John has been a big inspiration for the team. Once the players get inside (the field), they are the boss and nothing matters. The boys are really motivated. They want to win all these games for John,” said assistant coach Syed Sabir Pasha, filling in for suspended head coach to addressed the media.

John will be serving his last of his three-match suspension.

Despite the 13 points separating it with the home team, Chennaiyin FC is not taking anything for granted. “Every match is important. Delhi (Dynamos) drew with us and we cannot take any team lightly. Every team is good and have important players. We are coming away from home and playing in different conditions. It’s always difficult. We must take these three points,” said Pasha.

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