NEUFC seek to preserve momentum against ATK

NorthEast United FC will seek to build on the confidence drawn from their recently gained proficiency when they take on the defending champion Atletico de Kolkata in the Hero ISL here, at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, on Friday. NEUFC’s new Venezuelan coach Cesar Farias will want to build up on the 2-0 win they gained against the formidable Chennaiyin FC in their last outing at the same venue on Tuesday.

Return of marquee player Simao Sabrosa (left) boosted NEUFC's squad as the they tasted their first success, after three consecutive losses, when they beat Chennaiyin FC 2-0 on Tuesday.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

NorthEast United FC will seek to build on the confidence drawn from their recently gained proficiency when they take on the defending champion Atletico de Kolkata in the Hero ISL here, at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, on Friday.

NEUFC’s new Venezuelan coach Cesar Farias will want to build up on the 2-0 win they gained against the formidable Chennaiyin FC in their last outing at the same venue on Tuesday. That would, in a way, help in masking their unfavourable record against ATK, who won both their matches against the Guwahati-based outfit last season.

The way NEUFC upstaged the Chennaiyins in the previous game serves as a pointer to the “combination and focus” that Farias has been trying to impress on his squad. The home side tasted their first success after three consecutive loses. The return of marquee player Simao Sabrosa definitely helped their cause.

Coming on as a substitute in the 74{+t}{+h} minute, the Portuguese World Cupper appeared to have solved the striking blues plaguing the team since the start of the season. He scored from the penalty spot in the 89th minute as NEUFC managed a virtual photo-finish win to sustain its hopes in the league. NEUFC also strengthened their defence with the inclusion of Camroonian Andre Bike, as replacement for Miguel Garcia, to assist Cedric Hengbert in defence.

ATK’s aspirations hinge on a slightly different proposition. Their Spanish coach Antonio Habas will be working on getting the team back to winning ways. Unlike NEUFC, which is currently bottom of the league with three points, the Kolkata side is in third with seven points from two wins, a draw and a loss, which it suffered against FC Pune City last Saturday. Habas will be looking to use the break of five days form the last match to reorganise his side. The Spaniard had admitted the 1-0 loss against Pune was the worst performance by his side in recent times and had promised a recovery in tomorrow’s game.

The Kolkata side had found a way to survive without their marquee player Helder Postiga, who is recovering from an injury in Spain, by putting the doughty Iain Hume in the offensive role reserved for the former. Habas is seemingly unhappy with the performance of the multi-layered midfield having the likes of Spaniards Javi Lara Borja Fernandez, Nadong Bhutia, Izumi Arata and Botswana’s Ofetense Nato. Arata is out with an injury and is likely to be replaced by Baljit Sahni, who is making a return after serving a two-match suspension.

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