In their last league match of ISL 2015, NorthEast United take on FC Pune City at Guwahati, Assam on Wednesday. Part one of their survival strategies; NorthEast has to beat Pune City at any cost if they are to stand any chance of qualifying into the knock out stages. And if they manage to do so, they have to wait for Chennaiyin FC to lose one of their two remaining matches to make their way into the semis.
As for FC Pune City, they have to win both their remaining matches, one against The Highlanders and then against Chennaiyin to stand any chance of qualifying. So, it’s all in this matchup for both Cesar Farias and David Platt and it would be no surprise if we see fireworks both on and off the pitch.
The Highlanders come into the match at the back of a disappointing 2-1 loss against Delhi Dynamos while FC Pune City has been winless in their last five matches. Their last match against Kolkata ended in a 4-1 humiliation. Thus, Platt and his men will not be in their highest of their spirits and a win is probably the only thing they will crave for.
Kickoff Time and Telecast
Live Telecast: StarSports 2, StarSports HD2, StarSports 3(Hindi), StarSports HD3(Hindi), Star Gold (Hindi)
Live Stream: starsports.com
Date and Time: Wednesday, 2nd December 2015 – 1900 IST
Venue: Indira Gandhi Stadium, Sarusajai, Guwahati
Live Updates on Sportskeeda
Both coaches realize the importance of this match, particularly Farias as NorthEast United blew a golden opportunity to be in a comfortable position in their last match.
Speaking to the media ahead of the match, Farias said, “It's true that we had a big possibility in the last game, but we let it slip through our hands. But it is also true that we still have a possibility. It's not impossible. You have got to keep going and concentrate on what's coming up next. We’ll fight till we have the slightest of chances to make it. These are big games and a win can make all the difference for us,”
“It’s a big game and necessary (to win) for both teams. We will have to risk a lot of things,” he added further.
David Platt’s team has had a woeful run in the last six matches and remain winless. But he remained optimistic on his side’s chances since they do not have to depend on results elsewhere.
“Now we know where we are and what we need to do. It’s still in our own hands; we depend on our own results. It's about looking forward to this game rather than looking back to the last one,” he said.
Farias should have his full squad at his disposal against FC Pune City and it will be interesting to see how he uses his players, particularly the forward line. It’s unlikely that Velez and Simao will both start while either of Dadzie or Kamara will make the cut for the final XI. Bikey is expected to be back while the experienced Silas and Bruno Arias should take care of the midfield.
FC Pune, on the other hand, have a few issues to deal with. Midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh is unavailable due to suspension while defender Gouramangi Singh is ruled out of the tournament with an injury. Platt, however, has other options with the likes of Jackiechand Singh and Adrian Mutu up ahead. Also not to forget former Reading and Aston Villa defender Nicky Shorey will be in charge of the backline.
Predicted Line Up and Formation
NorthEast United: (4-4-2)
Rehenesh TP, Reagan Singh, Andre Bikey, Cedric Hengbart, Yumnam Raju, Sanju Pradhan, Siam Hanghal, Simao Sabrosa, Silas, Francis Dadzie, Victor Mendy
FC Pune City: (4-4-2)
Arindam Bhattacharya, Dharmaraj Ravannan, James Baily, Roger Johnson, Nickey Shorey, Adrian Mutu, Tuncay Sanli, Didier Zokora, Kalu Uche, Manish Maithani, Jakichand Singh.
Simao Sabrosa vs Nickey Shorey
Simao seems pretty active on the surface, but the Portuguese is one player who has been anchoring the NorthEast United attack very well. He is probably the reason why the midfield of the Highlanders seems to be in shape. If one wishes to weaken NEUFC attack, Simao is the player to mark.
As such it will be an interesting battle to see the former Reading, West Brom and Aston Villa defender Nickey Shorey try and tame Simao. Of late, Simao is seen to be pretty aggressive on the field and thus Shorey has to be very alert while trying to handle the former Benfica man.
Tuncay Sanli vs Andre Bikey
Tuncay has been one of the most influential players for FC Pune City. His raw pace and good conversion rate would be a headache for almost any team. And it would be very important for NorthEast to take care of him if they wish to make an impact on this game.
However, this time the Turkish man will have to face the towering Andre Bikey, who has been sharp and solid as a holding midfielder. Another interesting battle lined up.
NorthEast United FC 1-2 FC Pune City