Both sides are yet to win a game in the ISL 2019-20 season.

The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati will get its first taste of action this season, when the home side NorthEast United FC entertain newcomers Odisha FC on Saturday evening.

After an impressive display that saw them earn a point at the lair of the defending champions Bengaluru FC, Robert Jarni’s men would be looking forward to playing in front of their vocal home support.

The Highlanders would lock horns with the newly rebranded Odisha FC, who come into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat against Jamshedpur FC.

Josep Gombau’s men would be feeling infuriated over the fact that they couldn’t take advantage of being a man up against Jamshedpur FC  and ended up conceding a goal in stoppage time. They would be looking to put this chastening defeat behind them and look to lodge their first points on the table.

The Stakes

Despite losing their enigmatic coach Eelco Schattorie and a few of their key players this season, NorthEast United FC still have a talented squad at their disposal. Therefore, there’s no reason this unit should be feeling any less confident regarding replicating last campaign’s highs.

Monday’s spirited showing away from home against Bengaluru FC, will be a major point of encouragement for the new coach and his players going into their first home game of the season. They would feel hopeful of putting their visitors to the sword on Saturday and keeping pace with the playoff slots.

Delhi Dynamos, rechristened as Odisha FC, had mediocre runs in their last two campaigns, finishing a lowly eighth both times. Any hopes of the team bucking the trend this time were dealt a blow by a rather disappointing defeat against Jamshedpur FC.

Odisha FC are playing their first four games away from home, with visits to Mumbai City FC and Kerala Blasters lined up next. They would not want their points tally to look very shabby at the start of the season. So, opening their account on Saturday would be crucial.

Team News

The home team coach Robert Jarni doesn’t have any fitness issues to contend with for the game on Saturday. However, Rupert Nongrum and Uruguayan Federico Gallego remain long-term absentees and are likely to remain so for the first half of the season.

Odisha FC don’t have any fitness or suspension worries. So, coach Josep Gombau has a full squad to choose from.

Head-to-Head

NorthEast United and Odisha FC (formerly Delhi Dynamos) have previously locked horns 10 times in the league. Over the years, none of the teams have had an advantage over the other. Both sides have emerged victors three times each and shared the spoils on four occasions.

Men to Watch

Asamoah Gyan (NorthEast United FC)

The former Ghana national team captain would be the linchpin in NorthEast United’s attack this season. In his first competitive game in India, Gyan showed flashes of why he is arguably the most high-profile signing in the league this campaign. He hit the post, had a goal disallowed for offside and gave the Bengaluru defence a hard time with his physicality and movement.

Jerry Mawihmingthanga (Odisha FC)

The 22-year-old is one of India’s brightest talents and is already a proven customer in the league with his former club Jamshedpur FC. On Tuesday night he proved his former employers were wrong to sell him on, as he was his team’s most lethal weapon going forward. He hit the post, won a foul that led to a straight red card. The diminutive winger, with his constant running and searing pace, can cause a lot of problems to the home side.

Probable Lineups

NorthEast United: Subhasish (GK); Reagan, Heerings, Komorski, Rakesh; Lalthathanga, Leudo, Redeem, Kadam, Chaves; Gyan.

Odisha FC: Dorronsoro (GK); Sarangi, Delgado, Gharami, Narayan Das; Vinit, Tebar, Jerry, Xisco, Nandhakumar; Aridane.

Did You Know?

  • Odisha FC (formerly Delhi Dynamos) have a fairly successful record in this fixture, winning three out of the five games and drawing once.
  • In their run to the playoffs last season, the Highlanders won only twice and drew six times at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in the league stage.
  • Asamoah Gyan is the highest scoring African in the World Cup with six goals, ahead of illustrious names like Roger Milla, Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba.

Broadcast

The game will take place at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Friday from 7:30 PM IST. The match will be broadcast live on Star Sports 2 and Stars Sports 2 HD. It will also be streamed on Hotstar and Jio TV.