NEUFC looking to kick on against inconsistent Blasters

Buoyed by the form they discovered on their recent travels, NorthEast United FC will aim at preserving that when they meet struggling Kerala Blasters FC at home here at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Sunday.

Kerala Blasters have won only one of their last eight matches and lie at the bottom of the ISL table.   -  The Hindu

Buoyed by the form they discovered on their recent travels, NorthEast United FC will aim at preserving that when they meet struggling Kerala Blasters FC at home here at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Sunday.

Cesar Farias, the temperamental Venezuelan national coach, has been able to inspire a late flourish that has hauled NEUFC out of the morass of repeated failures in the first phase of the ISL.

The hunger for success, which appeared at a premium in their performances at the start of the second season, has suddenly become the trademark of the side. Farias’ insistence on “productivity, focus and combination” seems to have percolated the team psyche as the Highlanders have picked themselves up from a hopeless situation and have come within range of making it to the knock-out stage.

The turnaround happened in their last three away matches where they picked up seven points holding Delhi Dynamos 1-1 before taming two of the toughest teams of the tournament – Atletico de Kolkata (1-0) and Chennaiyin FC (2-1) – in their dens.

Currently placed fifth with 13 points from nine matches, NEUFC need to preserve this form against the desperation of the Blasters, who have now taken the place the former spent for the most part of the first leg – at the base of the league table.

With their backs against the wall, the Blasters come in as a dangerous proposition being a team that is looking to give everything away to regain success. Having eight points from two wins, as many draws and five losses, the Kerala outfit has fumbled with its shape and combination.

New coach Terry Phelan, who took up charge at the beginning of the second phase, has been trying to drill in the winning spirit in the last year’s runners-up but has found mixed success. Having lost 3-2 against Atletico de Kolkata in their previous outing, a win will be top on agenda for the visitors who are looking at a mathematical chance to make the knock-out spots.

The Blasters will be looking to rectify their sputtering attack and hoping the men upfront - like Chris Dagnall, Antonio German, and Mohammad Rafi - live up to their promise in this crucial match. An injury to Englishman Sanchez Watt will be bothering the visitors, who are looking for a more proactive role from the likes of Joao Coimbra and Mehtab Hossain in the midfield.

On the other hand, NEUFC enhanced their attacking options with the inclusion of Senegalese Victor Mendy ahead of the match. This adds to their previous replacements like Andre Bikey of Cameroon and Argentine Carlos Lopez who have considerably strengthened NEUFC’s defence allowing Farias to reorient the team’s approach on an offensive platform. And with Portuguese World Cupper Simao Sabrosa making regular starts alongside the consistent Spaniard Bruno Arias in the attack, the hosts have every reason to look for maximum points and continue the victory march.

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