The first position in the points table will be up for grabs when Jamshedpur FC hosts North East United FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Monday.
Jamshedpur, currently third in the table with 10 points, will jump to the top if it records a win. A defeat will propel its opponent — currently fourth with nine points — to the top.
Jamshedpur FC will aim to remain unbeaten at home. In the three encounters at home so far, it has recorded two wins and a draw. It will look to enjoy most of the ball with technically gifted midfielders like Aitor Monroy and Noe Acosta pulling the strings.
Antonio Iriondo, the head coach, has shown that the team can play according to situations and alter its tactics, as seen in its win over Goa where it enjoyed less possession than its counterparts. “I am happy with the performance of the team. Having the ball possession is not important, our objective is to win matches and score goals. Sometimes you are not able to get the ball possession, there are a lot of phases in a match when you try to go in counter-attacks,” said Iriondo.
While the influential Piti is still doubtful, the return of winger C. K. Vineeth and the form of Farukh Chaudhury does provide more options for Iriondo.
North East United hasn't been defeated so far this season, but it hasn't been able to string together two or more wins together. Robert Jarni, the head coach, will be hard-pressed to ensure it starts putting a run of victories together.
'Very good balance'
“Jamshedpur is a team that has a very good balance between defence and attack and for me, they are the best team in India. It is a difficult match for us. We have prepared well for this game and we want to win,” said Jarni.
NorthEast United will look towards Martin Chaves and Redeem Tlang to support Asamoah Gyan. Panagiotis Triadis will also have a role to play, given his recent upturn in form.
The Highlanders, however, have to shore up their defence. In the previous game against Mumbai City, defensive mistakes cost them a win and it has been the case throughout the season. It is an area in which Jarni will want more consistency.
The match begins at 7.30pm.
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