The Highlanders will look to put further distance between them and the chasing pack for the playoffs.
Chennaiyin FC will look to round up their ISL season with a few wins under their belt and will face a tough test against an uplifted NorthEast United. The Highlanders are undefeated in their previous seven games and look destined for their second playoffs appearance in seven seasons.
NorthEast have been flying high this season and have been consistent in their performances. They now face Chennaiyin, who are out of the playoffs race after drawing their previous game against FC Goa.
The Csaba Laszlo-coached side have been architects of their own downfall this season and will play for lost pride in a season where not much has gone in their favour, particularly in front of goal.
Chennaiyin FC would be playing for pride, as any remnants of their playoffs chances faded after the draw against Goa. The Marina Machans would be going into the game to get maximum points to save face and cause some problems for NorthEast United in the process.
The Highlanders will look to continue from where they left off against Odisha FC. Another win would guarantee their presence in the playoffs this season. Hence, the Highlanders will look to get the win in the bag and breathe easier for the rest of the regular campaign.
Chennaiyin FC are still without Anirudh Thapa, whose injury problems have continued to dog him and the side. The talismanic midfielder could miss the game against the Highlanders as well, his availability remains to be seen as Laszlo mentioned ahead of the previous match that Thapa was back in regular training with the team.
The Highlanders would be without Gurjinder Kumar who was given his marching orders in their previous game against Odisha FC. Apart from that, the coach has the rest of the squad to pick from.
Both these teams have faced each other 13 times, where NorthEast United have won six times and Chennaiyin FC thrice. There have been four drawn encounters as well.
Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United most recently faced each other on December 14 and the match ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
Chennaiyin FC: Kaith (GK); Reagan, Sabia (C), Sipovic, Lalrinzuala; Vanspaul, Memo, Ali, Chhangte, Lanzarote; Isma
Northeast United: Chowdhury (GK); Mehta, Lambot (C), Shereef, Tamang; Lalengmawia, Camara, Machado, Suhair; Brown, Gallego
Man to Watch
Memo Moura (Chennaiyin FC)
Memo Moura came in with the pedigree of his time with Jamshedpur FC, where he missed just 67 minutes of action for the Men of Steel. The Brazilian brought a lot more experience and sturdiness to the Chennaiyin midfield and has played his part admirably, despite the rubble around him.
Memo has averaged 5.2 tackles/game, which is markedly more than what he produced in his two seasons with Jamshedpur. Memo has proven to be an ideal backup in midfield and would be important in the game against NorthEast United. His main task would be to keep the in-form Luis Machado in check ,if Chennaiyin FC are to get anything out of the game. It makes for an interesting duel between the prolific Portuguese and the Brazilian.
Luis Machado (NorthEast United)
Machado has been one of the pioneers of NorthEast’s push for their second playoffs appearance in the ISL. The Portuguese is the top scorer for his team this season and his stats speak for themselves.
Six goals and an assist in 17 games while playing in midfield has ensured that Machado has added a different dimension to the Highlanders’attack. He has also formed a potent partnership with Deshorn Brown, Idrissa Sylla and Federico Gallego upfront. The Portuguese star has notched up impressive numbers, averaging 2.3 shots and two crosses/game. The only chink though is his passing accuracy which is just over 45%.
But, his continued consistency and goalscoring form combined with his all-round play are sure to influence how far NorthEast United make it this term.
Did You Know?
- Chennaiyin and NorthEast United are second and third on the list of teams with most losses in ISL history (46 and 45 respectively)
- Federico Gallego is three goals away from matching Bartholomew Ogbeche’s tally of 12 goals – the highest by any NorthEast United player in the ISL
- Chennaiyin FC (along with FC Goa and Hyderabad FC) have the most number of draws this season (9). Another draw could see them break the record for most draws (9) set by ATK in the 2016 season.
The match between Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters is set to be telecast live on Star Sports 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 2 SD & HD (English), Star Sports Hindi 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 3, Star Gold 2 (Hindi), Asianet Plus (Malayalam), and Star Sports regional channels (in Bangla, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi). It will also be streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar VIP and Premium and Jio TV.