Mumbai City FC may have secured their spot in this year's semi-finals of the Indian Super League, but the remaining three spots are still up for grabs. Atletico de Kolkata took a major step towards the semis as well yesterday after their win against FC Goa.
On Saturday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, two teams still harbouring hopes of making the final four will be in action as Nelo Vingada's NorthEast United and Marco Materazzi’s Chennaiyin FC, the defending champions, battle in an all-important clash.
Speaking to the media ahead of this game, Vingada summed up the situation his team is in: “It's my pleasure to be here in Chennai for the next game. As I always say, for me and my team, the next game is the most difficult, but this is more than that. This is a crucial game for both teams and Chennai has one more game than us (has played one more game), but still there is chance for Chennai and Kerala and us to qualify. Maybe, only Mumbai is now safe. The other teams are still fighting for the positions.”
NorthEast United got their campaign back on track after a narrow 1-0 win in their last game, against FC Pune City at home. That brought to an end a run of four straight defeats for the team.
“Regarding what happened in the last game our team has been hardened and even though we lost some games on the road, the performance was not so bad. Tomorrow, of course, we are here and our target is to win and get the result which can put us in a comfortable position. That target will be hard and will be difficult, but same way as how Chennai won in Guwahati, we can win here,” Vingada said referring to Chennaiyin’s 1-0 win when the teams met earlier in the season.
“Our determination is to win, respecting Chennai team, respecting the team that is still the champion and having the same ambitions as us. But the way we are playing, the mood in our team is better than a few weeks ago,” Vingada went on to add.
There are no major players missing for NorthEast with only India midfielder Rowllin Borges set to miss out due to suspension as a result of reaching the yellow cards limit. Vingada said that central defender Gustavo Lazaretti is recovering and that a decision on him would be made on game day.
Vingada also spoke about his team's performances and results not necessarily matching, with some good performances resulting in losses and some okay showings leading to wins, going on to say his team were “lucky” in the last game.
“To be honest, we have had better performances and not won and against Pune we did, it was a so-so game. But this is football. As you remember, in Kolkata, we were much better than them (Atletico de Kolkata) and in Goa, we were much, much better than Goa, but we missed a lot of chances and lost. Against Pune it was bit different, we were also little lucky.”
Having said that, the Portuguese signed off by saying that he would take an ugly win tomorrow as a victory and three points is all that his team is focused on now.
“So as against Pune, my motivation tomorrow will be to win. If we can play bad and still win, it will be okay.”
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