Road to ISL 2018-19 Playoffs - Eelco Schattorie makes history - 5 Things NorthEast United FC did right to make the Playoffs
Five different managers tried over four seasons to get NorthEast United FC to the playoffs.
In a league as competitive as the Indian Super League (ISL), they’d remained the only original side to never reach the playoffs.
Last season, they finished bottom of the standings, hauling just 11 points from 18 outings.
Not much was expected of them this season either and justifiably so.
However, they raised eyebrows in the opening matches, under the stewardship of Eelco Schattorie, with three wins and two draws in five games, including back-to-back away wins against two-time ISL winners ATK and Chennaiyin FC.
Although they left the Indian football fraternity awe-inspired, not many were convinced they could go all the way.
However, 13 games later, they secured their place in the last four, with the smallest budget in the competition no less.
The Dutch coach has done so impeccable a job that the Indian football fans have been clamouring for his being appointed as the Indian national team coach.
They will be locking horns with Bengaluru FC on March 3 and 11, with the home leg set to take place Thursday evening.
Here are five reasons why NorthEast, the ultimate underdogs, find themselves just three games away from becoming only the third side to win the ISL finals.
#5 The resurgence of Rowllin Borges
A state that used to have multiple representatives in the national team, Goa had a solitary player at the Asian Cup: Rowllin Borges.
A Goa-born NorthEast midfielder, he started the crucial game against Bahrain although India ended up losing to a last-minute goal.
It couldn’t have happened hadn’t it been for his recent resurgence at NorthEast.
He found his footing last season itself, but a poor showing from the team as a whole meant his side finished bottom of the table.
This season, however, it’s been a completely different story.
An excellent passer of the ball, he connects their impeccable backline with their dynamic frontline and has racked up four goals and two assists in 18 appearances.
He has played as big a role as any other player in the squad in their playoffs qualification.
His being at his best will be crucial to NorthEast United FC causing an upset against last season’s finalists Bengaluru FC in the playoffs.