ISL: NorthEast in do-or-die battle against upbeat Delhi (Preview)
Guwahati, Nov 29 (IANS) NorthEast United FC will look to keeping their chances of a semi-final qualification alive against high-flying Delhi Dynamos in an Indian Super League (ISL) clash here on Wednesday.
NorthEast need to garner a win from their remaining two group stage matches to have a chance of advancing to the semi-finals. Against Delhi, who pummelled FC Goa 5-1 in their last outing, it won't be an easy task for them at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.
NorthEast team were down and almost out in their last clash against Chennaiyin FC until defender Shouvik Ghosh tied the match at 3-3 with a header, earning a crucial point and keeping them in the semis race.
It was a thrilling finish to the match but coach Nelo Vingada said his side were entirely deserving of a point despite the late winner.
"If you tell me we were lucky to score in the last minute, then yes we were lucky but we fought to bring that luck for us and we created chances to score, and honestly I think we deserved the draw," he said.
"It is the correct result and the result is very important for us as it lifts our morale. We will put in a strong effort in the next two games."
Vingada will have to do rotate his squad so that two of his players, Koffi Ndri and Nicolas Velez, who are are both on three yellow cards, avoid another booking.
Four bookings automatically ensures a one-match suspension, which will rule them out of their final group stage match against Kerala Blasters.
Defensive midfielder Rowlin Borges will return to the squad after serving a one-match suspension and Vingada could also restore Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa to the starting line-up.
Delhi have nothing to worry sitting second on table with 20 points from 12 matches and head into their penultimate clash after a 5-1 drubbing of FC Goa.
"Unfortunately, we haven't reached the semi-finals as yet. So we have to focus on our next game, which is against a very difficult team, and for this reason it's very important to plan step by step," said coach Gianluca Zambrotta.
With qualification to the semi-finals all but certain, Zambrotta could give some of his players some much-longed rest.
"We need to look at our players' conditions and recovery and as of now I haven't planned anything tactical for the match against NorthEast," said the Italian World Cup winner.
Delhi will play their concluding league clash against Mumbai City FC on December 3.