Must win game for both the sides to keep their semi-final hopes alive…
Atletico de Kolkata and NorthEast United FC will be forced to take a few risks as they fight for a place in the semi-finals of the Indian Super League.
Three points and three places separate the two teams in this edition of the ISL at the moment, but coaches of both teams will be aware that tables can turn with three points at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, Kolkata, on Thursday. Atletico de Kolkata, who won the opening edition of the ISL in 2014, were unbeaten in the first five matches of the league and were cruising along nicely, but they have already lost twice in the last four matches and know that any more slip-ups can cost them a place among the top four.
More than Atletico de Kolkata, three points are an absolute must for NorthEast United FC. The visitors started their campaign in fine form, winning three of their first four matches but they have failed to win any of their last five matches. They have failed to fire in front of goal with only three different players scoring for them, the fewest tally by any team in ISL 2016.
Atletico De Kolkata coach Jose Molina will miss the services of the dependable midfielder Borja Fernandez who is suspended for this game, while Sammehg Doutie is injured and is set to sit out. Borja will make way for Botswana international Oftense Nato who will make his maiden appearance in this edition for the Red and White Army.
NorthEast United are the only team to lose four matches in a row but they will be encouraged with the return of top scorer Emiliano Alfaro and key midfielder Romaric. Alfaro was suspended for the last match with four bookings while an injured Romaric came on as a 79th minute substitute against Goa. Both are likely to start against ATK and play big roles.
Head to Head
Hero ISL 2014 saw Kolkata get the better of NorthEast on both occasions, winning 2-0 away and 1-0 at home. NorthEast managed to do the double over Kolkata last season winning by the sole goal both home and away. ATK came from behind to win 2-1 the last time these two teams met earlier this season in Guwahati.
Man to Watch
Iain Hume-Atletico De Kolkata: Iain Hume is always in the thick of things for Kolkata when it comes to attacks. The Canadian forward brings dynamism in the final-third for ATK. He has already netted four times with his first goal from open playing coming in ATK’s 2-2 draw against Delhi in their last match. Hume will have a huge role to play against NorthEast on Thursday as he looks to continue contributing assists and goals.
Emiliano Alfaro-NorthEast United FC: Emiliano Alfaro has been the star in NorthEast’s campaign so far and when he is on song, he can be a nightmare for any defender. With his quick feet and darting runs, he can create innumerable opportunities for his side. Most importantly, he has scored five goals and looks capable of adding plenty more. He needs to be at his best if the Highlanders are to put their campaign back on track.
Atletico de Kolkata (4-2-3-1): Majumdar, Kotal, Mondal, Tiri, Prabir, Nato, Pearson, Dika, Lara, Postiga, Hume.
NorthEast United (4-2-3-1): Paul, Chhetri, Zokora, Gustavo, Gurung, Romaric, Borges, Katsumi, Narzary, Velez, Alfaro.
The match will be telecast live on Star Sports 1, HD1, Star Sports 2, HD2, Star Gold, Star Gold HD, Jalsha Movies, Jalsha Movies HD and Hotstar. You can also follow Live text commentary of the game on Khelnow.com.
Photo © ISL Media
Report by Khel Now Correspondent Kushankur Rony Rakshit. Sports passionate and content writer. He is big football and cricket fan.