NorthEast United FC will host Kerala Blasters at the Tilak Maidan Stadium today at 7.30 PM.
This will be the last league match for both teams, however, both have different aims from this match. It is also special as both sides are lead by Indian head coaches. Kerala Blasters will be looking to sign off from the league in a positive way after a disastrous season, while NorthEast United demands nothing less than a win for cementing the playoff spots, to which there is still uncertainty about who will be the two other teams joining ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC in the final race. We’ve got all you need to know about the clash!
North East United had a brilliant season this year. Initially managed by Spaniard Gerard Nus, the baton was then given to Indian coach Khalid Jamil, under whom the team is showing terrific form and are unbeaten in the last 9 matches. The team currently stands at 4th position in the league table behind FC Goa with 30 points in 19 matches. Having lost only 3 games and sharing the spoils in 9 matches, the team can qualify for the playoffs even with a draw but they will be eying for a win today. The Highlanders are coming from a 2-1 victory over East Bengal. A positive result today will make Khalid Jamil lead the team to the playoffs for just the second time in the club’s history.
On the other hand, not everything went well for Kerala Blasters this season. The team bid adieu to Spanish coach Kibu Vicuña after a disappointing season. It was announced after the match against Hyderabad FC, that Kerala Blasters have mutually parted ways with Kibu and Ishfaq Ahmed will be donning the position of interim head coach for the remaining games. Having played 19 games so far, the Kochi-based side has won just 3 games and lost 8 games. The yellow army is coming from a 1-1 draw with Chennayin FC and will play their last match of the season today. The team will be looking for a positive way to end the season.
3 INDIAN PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
V. P. SUHAIR
The 28 -year old from Kerala is playing his first-ever ISL season and is living his dream. Suhair joined Northeast United from Mohun Bagan and was a part of Kibu Vicuña’s I-league winning squad. The striker started his career with United SC and has represented his home club Gokulam Kerala FC, East Bengal, and Mohun Bagan in the I-League. Having played 16 matches this season, Suhair scored in the last match against East Bengal and has an assist to his name. He is a lethal attacker, who could trick the Blasters defense.
Apuia is the youngest player to captain an ISL side and the player from Mizoram is mature in the field as well. A product of the U17 world cup set up, the midfielder has been instrumental for Northeast this season. He played all 19 matches this season, which shows how important he is. The 20-year old rose from the ranks of AIFF developmental side Indian Arrows and has represented them in the I-League before joining NorthEast in the last season.
The 20-year old from Kerala joined his home club in the last season and is one of the promising youngsters. Rahul scored 3 goals this season and has represented the yellow crest 16 times. Rahul is also one of the findings of the U17 world cup setup and has played all three world cup matches under Loius Norton De Mateos. The attacker is known for his pace in the field and will trouble the NorthEast defense.
3 FOREIGN PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
The Portuguese winger started his career with União Sport Clube Paredes, which is a Portuguese second-division side. Machado joined the Highlanders from Moreirense F.C.ahead of this season and he proved to be a vital addition to the squad. He has played all 19 matches and has scored 7 goals this season.
The 30-year old Jamaican forward was initially signed by Bengaluru FC from USL championship side OKC Energy FC, however, he has been banging goals for NorthEast after the January transfer window.
The 32-year old Spanish defensive midfielder joined Kerala Blasters ahead of this season with the experience of playing in La Liga. Vicente has played for Deportivo and Las Palmas. Having played 18 matches for the club, Gomes has scored twice and has assisted once this season.
Nishu Kumar has left the camp at Goa due to his injuries. Sahal Abdul Samad, Facundo Pereyra, and Ashutosh Mehta had injuries and it’s unlikely for them to start today.
NORTHEAST UNITED FC
Starting XI: Subhashish Roy, Nim Dorjee, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar, Apuia, Khassa Camara, Imran Khan, V.P. Suhair, Deshorn Brown, Luis Machado
KERALA BLASTERS FC
Starting XI: Albino Gomes, Lalruatthara, Kone, Costa, Jessel, Prasanth, Vicente Gomez, Jeakson Singh, Rahul KP, Gary Hooper, Jordan Murray
NorthEast United are the clear favorites to win the match today. Kerala Blasters will be looking to sign off on a happy note but it will not be easy against a formidable NorthEast United side.
Speaking of the result, we are predicting an easy win for NorthEast United.