NorthEast United FC will probably be seeking to construct on its unbeaten run within the final 9 matches when it takes on a robust ATK Mohun Bagan facet within the first leg of the second Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) semifinal on the GMC Stadium on Saturday.
Among the 4 groups progressing to the playoffs, NorthEast’s ascendance has been probably the most exceptional because it recovered from a mid-season hunch, which noticed it dropping to the underside half of the league desk, earlier than rising as one of many title contenders.
The man behind NEUFC’s spectacular turnaround is Khalid Jamil, who took over as interim head coach on the time of disaster and helped the staff attain the semifinals for less than the second time in its quick historical past. Jamil, who had joined the staff as an assistant coach within the earlier season, remained unbeaten in all of the 9 video games he managed because the Highlanders recorded a creditable six wins and three attracts.
“All the players have worked very hard. Because of them, we have reached here. I never think about the nine matches. This is a very serious game and we will have to fight for everything. The boys have worked hard through the season and I hope they continue to do so in the next few matches,” Jamil mentioned on the eve of the match.
ATKMB stays as one of the vital constant sides ever within the event however slips within the final two matches value it the prospect of profitable the ISL League Winners’ Shield. Coach Antonio Habas, who has the expertise of profitable the title twice with ATK earlier than the merger, will probably be hoping to arrest the hunch and assist Mohun Bagan regain the profitable type.
“We have to think positively and get back to the rhythm with which we have played so far. Our target will be winning the title and we have to put our best efforts to realise it,” Habas mentioned. The Mariners are prone to miss their injured central defender Sandesh Jhingan.
The statistics present that each groups exhibit excessive ranges of compactness on the again. Scoring first on the evening can be essential as not one of the two sides have misplaced a match this season after taking the lead. NorthEast gained eight and drew the remaining 5 within the 13 events it has scored first, whereas Mohun Bagan has a good higher document with 12 wins and two attracts the 14 occasions when it has taken the lead.
“We are going to play against a good football team. ATKMB is defensively strong and has a good attack. It will be the toughest game of the league. While progressing to this stage, my boys have shown the right temperament and the heart to take on any opponent. I am proud as their coach,” Jamil mentioned.
Habas additionally had quite a lot of good phrases for his subsequent opponent. “It’s a very difficult team because they have good players in defence, central midfield and good players in attack. They also had good performances, always giving 100 percent on the pitch,” Habas mentioned whereas setting the tone for a tricky battle forward in Bambolim.