NorthEast United FC and Odisha FC will seek the first win of their Indian Super League season when the two lock horns at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday.
NorthEast United started their campaign with a goalless draw away from home to Bengaluru FC while Odisha FC suffered a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Jamshedpur FC in their ISL debut.
The Highlanders will count on home support to help them notch their first win and kickstart their campaign.
Head coach Robert Jarni would have been pleased with the way the team defended against a strong Bengaluru FC side, with Mislav Komorski and Kai Heerings looking solid as a central defensive partnership. Colombian midfielder Jose Leudo was an efficient screen for them, sitting deep in midfield and snuffing out opposition moves.
“I am happy with the point (against Bengaluru FC). The team worked hard against the defending champions. Now at home, we will look to play more attacking football. We are ready for that kind of football as well,” said Jarni.
However, the Croatian will want his forward line to start converting chances. With Uruguayan attacking midfielder Martin Chaves looking sharp against Bengaluru, star striker Asamoah Gyan can again expect good service.
“He (Gyan) had good chances to score (against Bengaluru). It is always difficult to create chances against Bengaluru. Everybody knows him here, he is a very important player for us,” said the coach.
For Odisha, the game will be all about making their opportunities count. They were caught out on the counter numerous times against Jamshedpur in the previous game despite playing against 10 men. Coach Josep Gombau would have been left frustrated with how they conceded a late goal. The defence, led by Carlos Delgado, needs to buckle up against the likes of Gyan and Chaves.
Given that the Spaniard advocates a possession-based philosophy, Odisha must make the most of their chances while remaining cautious against counter-attacks.
“We have our own way to play. We respect the team we are playing against a lot. We’re satisfied with our players. We discussed the result (against Jamshedpur) with all players. We had a few chances, but we couldn’t score,” said Gombau.
In Aridane Santana, they appear to have a potent goalscorer, if his smart finish against Jamshedpur is anything to go by. Former Bengaluru FC midfielder Xisco Hernandez also impressed in that game and more of the same will be expected from them against a difficult opponent.