Both teams are at opposite ends of the table.

Chennaiyin FC will be looking to extend their five-match unbeaten run in Indian Super League (ISL) when they take on NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Friday. The 2015 champions have won three of their last five matches and know that a victory against the Highlanders will strengthen their position at the top of the table.

While speaking to the media at the pre-match press conference, Chennaiyin assistant coach Syed Sabir Pasha insisted that NorthEast’s lowly ninth spot in the league standing belies their ability and that it will be a difficult game against them. ”Every team is important, every game is important.

When we were playing Delhi Dynamos, the same question was asked of us and then they drew with us. So, we can’t take any team lightly. Every team is good, every team has some important players. So, tomorrow’s match is also very important for us. We are coming away from home and playing in different conditions, so it is always difficult. I think, it’s very important to take these three points and we are focused on it,” he said.

“When asked if head coach John Gregory’s absence on the sidelines –  as he serves out the last of his four-match touchline ban – has affected the team, Pasha added: “We are positive every time. John has really been an inspiration for the team, no doubt, but he always says that once the team goes inside (the pitch), they are the boss.’

“So, I think, the team matters the most. We really miss John, but the boys are really motivated and they want to win all these 3-4 games for John because he is not there. So, I feel that it (his absence) is not going to harm us in any way, as we are highly motivated to play the way we have been playing.”

Also Read

Chennaiyin FC eye three points against NorthEast to extend lead at top of table

NorthEast United’s focus on youth: Right idea, wrong execution

NorthEast United slash ticket prices, announce several sops in bid to woo supporters

Meanwhile, NorthEast’s assistant coach Eelco Schattorie spoke of a positive atmosphere in the squad ever since Avram Grant’s arrival during the hosts’ pre-match press conference. “The overall atmosphere is fine. It’s pretty good. From the first day I have arrived till now, the most important thing I have seen is that the players have the intention to do the job.”

“They are motivated to do something together, which is very positive. Regarding the team gelling or getting tactics implemented, that always takes time, especially offensively. Defensively, I didn’t think, we had too many problems in the last game. Overall everyone is positive, we have a good atmosphere in training. We play against the number one (team) tomorrow, and as a coach, you don’t have to motivate anyone if you play the number one in the league,” he said.