ISL 2018-19: Injury-plagued NorthEast United wary of Kerala Blasters threat
NorthEast United FC coach Eelco Schattorie will hunt for his first home win in the Indian Super League (ISL) against the inconsistent Kerala Blasters on Friday in Guwahati. However, the coach faces a bit of an injury crisis with four of his players out, one of whom is ruled out for the entire season.
On the eve of the match, Schattorie did mention that NorthEast United have a few problems at hand, especially with a foreign player being injured and ruled out for the season. He didn't want to name the player, but it looks like Augustine Okrah, who suffered an injury during the friendly game against Karbi Anlong Morning Star FC, is out. The Highlanders also have three Indians injured, but the coach didn't reveal their names.
"The atmosphere is good. The players are in good spirits. We have good characters who want to work together, and hopefully, after this two-week break we can maintain the same flow and get the three points," Schattorie said regarding the atmosphere in the dressing room after the shocking loss to Mumbai at home.
On his opponents, Schattorie said: "I know Len Doungel and Halicharan very well they were with us last year and both are good at dribbling, and we will take measures to counter that."
Kerala Blasters are coming into the game on the back of two back-to-back defeats and would want to jolt up the standings. The international break came at the perfect moment for Kerala Blasters, and David James wants his players to pull up their socks and get the much-needed three points.
David James too seemed confident ahead of the tie but highlighted that his side also had injury worries and refrained from naming the players injured as it could give his opponents an upper hand.
"We had a fantastic training session today, and the lads are raring to go out and play the game, we want the game to come quickly," James said.
"NorthEast United have surprised everyone this season especially when compared to last season, but this is what the ISL is all about we have a lot of changes regarding team performances every season," James added.
James has rotated his squad consistently, which could also mean that he's yet to find a winning combination with the team. However, the coach defended his decision of chopping and changing by saying: "Well, I have 25 players in my squad, not 11 players and 14 assistants, so there is going to be a few changes in the line up as everyone is fighting for a spot."
With both the teams hungry for a victory, the game on Friday promises to be an exciting encounter. Chances of seeing some of the reserve bench players get a runabout could also happen.