An introspective NorthEast United FC will look to upend a spate of reverses when it comes against a resurgent Chennaiyin FC in the Hero ISL encounter here the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Tuesday.
There is a note of desperation in the NorthEast United FC ranks as the team is yet to lodge a point in the current season having lost all the three matches it has played so far. The host may well be falling back on a past record while looking to reverse the trend. Among the few wins it has amassed in the short span of the ISL, the 3-0 win against Chennaiyin FC in same venue last year is the most emphatic performance the NEUFC can boast of. The host has undergone a lot of transformation in the team composition compared to the last season but the big win against the visitor would definitely provide it the encouragement to seek a change in fortune in the ongoing edition.
Having conceded seven goals while scoring only two in its three outings, the NEUFC would first have to transcribe its game plans into action when it takes on the might Chennaiyin FC. The visitor has arguably the best attacking combination in Colombia-Brazil duo of John Stiven Mendoza and Elano Blumer. Much like what Elano did last season, Menzoda has found outstanding form scoring a hat-trick and a brace against FC Goa and Mumbai City FC to get Chennaiyin back on the winning track after losses in the first two outings.
The biggest challenge for NEUFC defence, whose disorientation is the main cause of concern for the host, will be containing Mendoza who is currently the leading scorer of the tournament with five goals he scored in Chennaiyin’s last two outing. The visitor’s attack is further strengthened by the creative ability of Elano while Harmanjot Khabra, Raphael Augusto and Thoi Singh in midfield add greater punch in the team’s offensive designs. In such a situation Cedric Hengbart, the Frenchman marshalling NEUFC’s defence in absence of the injured Portuguese defender Miguel Garcia, will have his task cut out.
Playing its fourth straight ‘away’ match Chennaiyin FC coach Marco Materazzi will be seeking to preserve the fine form without making many changes in the formation that has seen the team score the most number of goals (eight) among all the side in the tournament. On the other hand NEUFC’s Venezuelan coach Cesar Farias may have to bring in some reinforcements to effectuate “productivity, focus and combination” that he has been trying to bring about in the team since the start. The host may well be looking to include its marquee player and the Portuguese midfielder Simao Sabrosa, who back with the side after injury rehabilitation. Seityasen Singh and Aibor Khongjee are also available for selection and may make up the changes in the team that played and lost 1-3 against FC Goa here in its last outing.