Both teams are looking for their first win of the season.
The Marina Machans endured arguably their worst opening-day result on Sunday evening, when they lost 3-2 at home to fierce rivals Football Club Goa. Singling out team selection and choice of formation, John Gregory took the blame for the humbling loss, but he proved yet again that his being tactically flexible is his – and Chennaiyin’s, by extension – major strength, when his boys netted twice in the second half to almost complete a comeback.
Their mini second-half resurgence will likely serve to motivate them to dominate their midweek opponents out of the gate but, NorthEast, who have never lost in Chennai, will also eye their first ISL victory on the night.
The Highlanders played out a stalemate with ISL newcomers Jamshedpur Football Club on Saturday night; however, they were hands-down the better side, as they produced five big chances with 64 percent possession.
After seeing Jamshedpur’s Subrata Paul claim the Hero of the Match award thanks to their being ineffective in front of the goal, they’ll look to convert the chances they’re bound to create against the Chennai outfit tomorrow
Bikramjit Singh and Gregory Nelson, who replaced Dhanachandra Singh and Rene Mihelic at halftime, will likely be in the starting line-up. One expects more changes to the team that started the opener, with Jude Nworuh expected to replace the youngest ISL debutant, Baoringdao Bodo.
As for NorthEast, coach Joao de Deus will likely hand two-time Categoria Primera A-winning forwards Luis Paez his first ISL start after seeing his attacking personnel misfire against Jamshedpur. Besides, Rowlin Borges, who missed the opener through an injury, will eye a starting berth having returned to training recently.
Former champions Chennaiyin have their second-worst record against NorthEast, losing thrice and winning just once in six games. They have only averaged 1.2 goals per game, as opposed to NorthEast’s two. However, having already scored two in the nascent season, they’ll look to outscore the latter.
2015 ISL Champions are yet to win a game against the Highlanders © NEUFC.com
Their three meetings in Chennai were high-scoring affairs, with 13 goals scored. With Goa’s visit rendering the Chennai audience a five-goal thriller, one predicts a high-scoring game again.
Man To Watch
Raphael Augusto–Chennaiyin: Chennaiyin have a new manager at the helm, and the roster has also undergone a major overhaul this season. They’ve, however, retained one important aspect of their game: their number 19 from Brazil orchestrating the game. He stood out in the loss to Goa and, on Thursday, he’ll look to inspire his team to win while inevitably standing out.
Marcinho–NorthEast United: Hero of the Match in the opener, the left-footed Brazilian didn’t only create high-quality chances for Danilo Lopes for he also hit the woodwork himself. With Chennaiyin’s best defensive formation unidentified yet, one expects him to cause a lot of problems for the hosts.
The match will be broadcast live on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD from 7:45pm onwards. It can also be streamed live for free on Hotstar.