ISL: NorthEast faces the might of Delhi

With the league engagements reaching the business end, NorthEast (placed fifth with 15 points from 12 matches) needs a win to sustain its dream of making it to the semi-finals for the first time in the tournament history.

Nicolás Vélez scored a brace for NorthEast United in its match against Chennaiyin FC.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

NorthEast United FC will be clinging to a new found proficiency on field when it hosts one of the more consistent outfits of the current Indian Super League, Delhi Dynamos, at Indira Gandhi Stadium here on Wednesday.

With the league engagements reaching the business end, NorthEast (placed fifth with 15 points from 12 matches) needs a win to sustain its dream of making it to the semi-finals for the first time in the tournament history. The Dynamos, currently placed second with 20 points (from 12 matches), will be eager to pick at least a point which would help it secure its position in the top half of the standings.

Having picked up five points in the last three matches, the host is hopeful of a turnaround, which looked remote after the four consecutive losses it suffered from the sixth and the ninth rounds. NorthEast coach Nelo Vingada will be taking heart from the way his boys held Chennaiyin FC 3-3 with a last minute goal. The host expect to hold its nerves again Delhi which has emerged as a greatly consistent side under the Italian World Cupper winner Gianluca Zambrotta. Despite having niggling injuries to some players, which vingada said is normal in a closely formatted league like this, the host will have its defensive midfielder Rowlin Borges returning to the squad after serving a match’s suspension.

Delhi Dynamos, who come to the penultimate league outing with the confidence of having drubbed Zico’s FC Goa 5-1, will definitely be the team to beat. Zambrotta’s objective is to ensure a semifinal berth and the Dynamos will be fielding its best eleven. Vingada said NorthEast team will be missing the services of the first-choice goalkeeper Subrata Paul and Brazilian defender Gustavo Lazzaretti owing to injury. This will put the pressure on the host as Delhi, which has picked up 10 points from three wins and a draw in the last five matches, has a very good attack spearheaded by its Brazilian striker Marcelinho, who is the current top scorer of the tournament with eight goals. The presence and form of the French World Cupper Florent Malouda in the midfield is another factor keeping the visitor ahead.

“We are considering tomorrow’s match like a final. A good performance will keep us in the hunt. A lot depends on the result of the match between Atletico Kolkata and Kerala Blasters (on Tuesday). But we will try to give our best on field and try to progress on merit,” Vingada said weighing his team’s chances, which looks most difficult given the current situation of the League.

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