ISL 2018-19: Will the NorthEast slip away once again?
Among the eight teams that have been the part of the Indian Super League (ISL) from the start, NorthEast United FC is the only team that has not made to the playoffs so far in any season of the league. They have won the matches many a time, they have also been successful in starting the season very well, but despite all the efforts, they have never been in the semifinals for the past four seasons. NorthEast is the only such team in the history of ISL.
The way NorthEast United FC started this season, fans are hopeful of a semi-final berth. As the race of the playoffs progressed, Eelco Schattorie's team kept moving forward and are currently at the fourth position in the table with 23 points in 14 matches. Credit goes to the way they started the season but, now the team is suffering because of the fitness of the players and also the selection issues. They have lost the last four matches on a trot. The form of the team is a serious problem because they only have a solitary win in the last six matches.
When asked about NEUFC chances to qualify, head coach Schattorie said,
My team will always try to win. I want to be progressive, not negative. We want to be a united team and try to make that goal a realistic one. Yes, there is pressure on me but everything is possible.
Northeast United is just below FC Goa which is at third position with 25 points. Jamshedpur FC and ATK have 20 points each and in such a case one point can prove to be significant.
After losing to Bengaluru FC in a close encounter, Schattoire expressed his views on his tweeter handle, he tweeted,
When you have to explain how you lose a game while you had 56% ball possession, 23 vs 7 crosses,14 vs 1 corner and the opposing goalkeeper was the man of the match. Painful painful painful.
NorthEast FC will face Delhi Dynamos, Mumbai City FC, FC Pune City and Kerala Blasters in their next four matches.
Each point at this stage of the league will be huge. A goalless draw played between Delhi and Goa on Monday showed that the lower rank team can also trouble the top-4 teams for a place in the playoffs.
Now the question is whether Schattoire can do what other coaches could not do in the past for NEUFC? Can the NorthEast FC qualify for the playoffs or will it be the same story as of season 3 where they fell short in the latter stages? The next four matches will answer this.