Will the fiery FC Goa continue their marauding run against the tactical brilliance of Avram Grant?
The arrival of former Chelsea FC manager Avram Grant as the technical advisor has reignited that NorthEast United FC can still salvage their chances despite a poor start in the fourth edition of Hero Indian Super League.
The man who took English Premier League giants Chelsea to the final of the UEFA Champions League in 2008 has already joined the club and there is genuine belief that a turnaround is possible, starting with their home tie against FC Goa at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati, on Saturday.
NorthEast United are ninth on the table with four points from seven matches. Only Delhi Dynamos have fared worse in the league.
“The mood has changed (in the dressing room) with arrival of the new (technical) advisor. The boys are geared up and ready for tomorrow’s match,” goalkeeping coach Joseph Siddy said during the pre-match media interaction.
With three home matches in a row against FC Goa (January 6), ATK (January 12) and Chennaiyin FC (January 19), the conditions are ideal for the former Ghana national team coach to turn things around.
“It will help the team with the new advisor. His experience and coaching style will motivate us and will give us the confidence to do well in future matches,” said Siddy.
It may not be all that easy with FC Goa as their opposition on Saturday. The Goans showed remarkable spirit to snatch a point against ATK in their previous game and are now targeting the top spot.
FC Goa are placed fourth with 13 points from seven matches and will return to the top of the table should they score a comfortable victory.
“All the teams are well balanced. They are equal and it’s the small details which make the difference in each game,” said FC Goa chief coach Sergio Lobera, unwilling to take their poorly-performing rivals lightly.
Much of FC Goa’s chances will depend on the form of Spanish striker Ferran Corominas, who is now the leading goalscorer with nine goals. Coach Lobera admitted that Corominas is a special player but continued to stress on the collective strength of his side.
“Coro is a very good player. He has great experience. I am very happy with him and he is one of the best player I have trained, not just on the field but off the field as well. He keeps the group united. But it’s not about individual; it’s about the team,” said Lobera.