The two teams have endured a difficult previous campaign.
On the second day of Durand Cup 2022, NorthEast United lock horns with Odisha FC in a group D match. NorthEast United will look to have their pre-ISL preparation in Durand Cup as they are yet to have all their players in India.
Meanwhile, Odisha FC are coming with a short preparation camp ahead of the tournament and have all the first team players available for the game. Both sides are well matched to win the game and start the new football season on a positive note.
Despite playing in every season of the Indian Super League, NorthEast United have failed to win anything so far. They have been inconsistent every now and then and that seems to cost them the trust of the fans.
After last year’s behind-the-scenes drama, the Highlanders are making a fresh start with the Durand Cup. The club and the fans would love to begin with an emphatic victory and a successful Durand Cup campaign.
Josep Gombau is back with the Juggernauts and so are the hopes of supporters after two below-par dismal seasons. The Spaniard has led the side for three years in the past and the team played some beautiful possession-based game during the period.
The manager has emphasized on winning everything with this youthful squad. Gombau sees Durand Cup as the perfect opportunity to bring competitiveness among the players and make them ready for ISL.
Marco Balbul has a lot of expectations from the supporters. However, whether he’ll be heading the team for the competition is still unrevealed. NorthEast United will mostly feature their reserve team players along with a few senior team candidates in the event. However, international players of the Highlanders are doubtful for the game as of now.
Josep Gombau had previously stated that the Durand Cup 2022 is a priority to the club. Odisha FC have their Indian brigade available. They also have the foreigners training with the group and some are expected to be part of the line-up as well.
In the 16 matches between the sides (including the matches played by erstwhile Delhi Dynamos), the Highlanders have five wins compared to the six of the Juggernauts. The remaining five matches ended in draws. Both teams are facing each other in the Durand Cup for the first time.
North East United: Mirshad (GK), Joe Zoherliana, Gaurav Bora, Mashoor Shereef, Gurjinder Kumar, Pragyan Gogoi, Imran Khan, Sehnaj Singh, Emil Benny, Jithin MS, Danmawia Ralte.
Odisha FC: Mawia Ralte (GK), Lalruatthara, Narender Gehlot, Carlos Delgado, Shubham Sarangi, Paul Ramfangzauva, Raynier Fernandes, Victor Rodriguez, Jerry Mawia, Michael Soosairaj, Diego Mauricio.
Man to watch
Imran Khan (North East United)
The 27-year-old midfielder was new to the Indian Super League and took it by storm. Imran Khan had been hitting his prime for NorthEast United despite all their shortcomings last season. The midfielder plays with the maturity of a veteran and always steps up in clutch moments for the Highlanders.
In absence of foreign stars, Imran is expected to have the command of midfield and fans must keep an eye on him.
Michael Soosairaj (Odisha FC)
Michael Soosairaj was once considered as the most versatile young Indian attacker during the 2018-19 season. He has the skills to take on defenders and also possesses a goal-scoring ability. The winger rarely loses his composure in front of the net.
Soosairaj’s move to ATK after a successful season with Jamshedpur FC turned out to be a failure. The 27-year-old never looked effective playing as a wing-back at ATK. Injuries hampered his career growth and the player is looking for a resurgence with the Juggernauts.
Did You Know
- Marco Balbul is only the second Israeli Coach in the Indian Super League.
- Josep Gombau led Odisha FC in their inaugural campaign in 2019/20.
- Carlos Delgado and Osama Malik have played under Josep Gombau before.
The match between North East United and Odisha FC will kick off at 5:30 PM IST on August 17 (Wednesday) at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. The match will be telecasted live on the Sports18 1, Sports 18 1HD and Sports18 Khel (Hindi commentary) TV channels in India. Live streaming of the Durand Cup 2022 will also be available on VOOT and JioTV.