NorthEast United look to strengthen their position in the top four when they host an unpredictable Delhi Dynamos FC in the Indian Super League fixture in Guwahati on Thursday.
The Highlanders currently occupy the last play-off spot, having tallied 23 points from 14 games. With just four more games left to be played and Jamshedpur FC and ATK breathing down their neck, NorthEast United need to make the most of their home games.
Eelco Schattorie’s side have won just two of the seven matches they have played at home. Dropping points at this juncture could potentially endanger their bid to reach the ISL play-offs for the first time. “It is difficult for them [Delhi] to qualify,” Schattorie said. “They can play without any pressure. It is always a completely different mindset if you have to deliver something.
“We are in a position where we need to win and they are in a position where they will try to get a result. If you can score quickly against such a team, you can break them down because of less motivation.”
Schattorie will be aware that Delhi held third-placed FC Goa to a goalless draw in their last game and will be out to play spoilsport.
The Dutchman will also be concerned with his own team’s results, picking up only one win in their last five matches. NorthEast had preferred a 4-2-3-1 formation with star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche leading the lines in the initial run of game.
But Schattorie has experimented with a 4-4-2 as well; he is expected to revert to the shape that brought the Highlanders results.
Delhi Dynamos, on the other hand, finally seem to have some wind in their sails. They have picked up seven points from a possible nine in their last three matches. However, a disastrous first half of the season has all but put an end to their play-off hopes. The Dynamos, however, will be confident of good showing. “If we win our remaining matches, the team will be more motivated. We know maybe we won’t qualify for the play-offs but if we win the next games, we will get confidence,” assistant manager Mridul Banerjee said.
“In our home match, we lost to NorthEast United 2-0. Now if we win tomorrow in the away game the team will get great confidence.”
Delhi do have a couple of fitness concerns going into the game. Midfielder Bikramjit Singh is injured while Adria Carmona is not expected to feature in the starting XI despite travelling with the squad.