Northeast United turn focus to Kerala Blasters

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Matchday 107 will see Northeast United take on Kerala Blasters at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco. The Highlanders are just one point of shy of becoming the third team after Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan to qualify for the playoffs and Kerala Blasters will turn to play for pride.

Blast from the past:

A 4 goal encounter saw Northeast United comeback from Behind to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat against Kerala courtesy of a late equaliser by Idrissa Sylla.

Northeast United FC:

Credit: NEUFC Twitter

Northeast United find themselves at the fourth spot with 30 points to their name, their highest ever tally. The Highlanders are on a nine match unbeaten run ever since the departure of Gerard Nus and the arrival of Khalid Jamil.
They come into this game on the back of 1-2 victory against their eastern neighbours SC East Bengal. Things for Northeast United are pretty even on both ends as they have scored the third highest number of goals (29) but have also conceded 25 goals. This could arguably be the most important match for Khalid Jamil and his Highlanders.
“They are a good team. They have good talents players, foreigners are also good and they are a quality team. So, we have to prepare as it will be a tough game. We should not take this match lightly, we must fight. We are not thinking about anything else and the preparation is same,” said Coach Khalid Jamil at the pre-match press conference.

Kerala Blasters FC:

Credit: KBFC Twitter

The Yellow army will turn to play their final fixture of the ongoing season and will be looking to end the season on a high note. Things are completely different when it comes to attacking and defending for Kerala. They have scored 23 goals but have conceded 35 goals too, the second highest in the league. They were held to a 1-1 draw by their southern rivals Chennaiyin FC in their 19th fixture of the season.
“…They have to win and they do have more pressure but for us it is an opportunity to sign off from the league on a high. We are not thinking about what they have to do, we are thinking about us. We have injuries too but we will be concentrating on their weaknesses and our strengths,” Kerala Blasters FC’s interim head coach Ishfaq Ahmed said ahead of the game.

Players to watch out for:

Federico Gallego (Northeast United FC)

Credit: NEUFC Twitter

The Uruguayan lynchpin has regained his top form and has played a significant role in getting the Highlanders’ season back on track. The 30 year old midfielder has the most number of goal contributions for Northeast United this season, 4 goal and 6 assists and he will surely have a vital part to play against Kerala.

Garry Hooper (Kerala Blasters FC)

Credit: KBFC Twitter

The Englishman did take sometime to settle but has been performing really well for the Kochi based club. The Spurs academy graduate has 5 goals and 4 assists to show for his performance for Kerala Blasters, one of those coming against Northeast United back in the reverse fixture.

Probable Starting XI:

Northeast United FC (4-3-3): Subhasish (GK), Nim, Fox, Lambot, Lakra, Lalengmawia, Camara, Imran, Machado, Brown, Suhair.

Kerala Blasters (4-2-3-1) : Albino (GK), Jessel, Costa, Kone, Prasanth, Vicente, Jeakson, Puitea, Rahul, Hooper, Murray.

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