Friday’s match between Chennaiyin and NorthEast United will be an exhilarating end to a long and intense league season. Despite both teams missing out on the playoffs, there is still much at stake for each team. Both sides still have something to gain as they battle it out on the pitch – bragging rights, player morale, and credibility among coaches and players alike. With both teams determined to go down fighting, this match promises to be an exciting showdown between two talented but unfortunate contenders who looked set for a better fate at the beginning of the season. It’s sure to be a thrilling finish fit for such an unforgettable league campaign!
This Thursday’s match promises to be an exciting one, with two-time ISL champions pitted against the bottom-placed Highlanders. The former come into this fixture fresh from a thrilling 2-1 win over Goa while their opponents unfortunately suffered a 3-1 defeat in their previous outing with Odisha. Despite the disparity between them in terms of performance, both Thomas Brdaric‘s men, who currently stand eighth on the league standings after 24 points gathered from 19 matches, and Vicenzo Alberto Annese‘s troops, at the foot of the table with 5 points colected from 19 fixtures, are now fighting for nothing more than pride. As such, we can expect these sides to come out fiercely determined to put on a spectacular show; it mounts up to be quite an entertaining encounter.
Both Chennaiyin and the Highlanders have had a rocky season in the ISL, with setbacks affecting their standings. Chennaiyin’s coach Ante Brdaric could be especially pleased with his team’s performances, as they have made some impressive advances this season. Despite this, their shortcomings in defence proved costly overall. The Marina Machans scored an impressive 32 goals throughout the campaign, which was the fourth-highest total in the league but it came with a price – 34 conceded goals and fails to match their rivals Highlanders’ counterattack efforts, probably preventing them from making it to a playoff stage.
It promises to be an intriguing matchup between two sides with very different fortunes this season. The Highlanders have been on a roll, having won both of their last two matches and riding that wave of confidence into this fixture. On the other hand, Annese’s side have had a very shaky start to the league season, lying at the bottom of the table ever since Marco Balbul resigned as coach. They have been plagued with difficulty both offensively and defensively, but they have improved over time ever since their new coach signed on the dotted line. Though it has been a very trying campaign for them so far, they will look to end it on an upbeat note with a morale-boosting win on Saturday night.
Head to head, these clubs have fairly evenly matched records leading into this game, with each side having won six times. However, there couldn’t be a greater contrast between the two teams’ performances in the reverse fixture earlier in the season – the Marina Machans emerged winners of a thrilling 7-3 victory. Knowing they have been on the receiving end of that kind of scoreline before will give both teams extra motivation and make for an exciting match ahead this time around.
Brdaric’s side had a sleepless night earlier in the season after their victory over the Highlanders, drumming up hopes of making it to the playoffs. Despite that, there was an unfortunate setback when Abdenasser El Khayati got injured and sidelined for just as long. He was also absent during their win over the Gaurs, leaving the team spirits entwined with anxieties of actually qualifying for playoffs. It is likely that he will be out through injury while the same playing XI of Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, Fallou Diagne, Vafa Hakhamaneshi, Aakash Sangwan, and Samik Mitra in goal is expected to remain untouched. This means that Brdaric’s men must make do without El Khayati on his return to guide them towards playoff aspirations if they are to nearly make it in time.
The coach gave his lineup an overhaul for their last fixture, bringing Wilmar Jordan, Hira Mondal and Gani Nigam into the starting XI in place of Romain Philippoteaux. For this fixture an experienced Julius Duker takes up the holding midfield role while Jiteshwor Singh and Anirudh Thapa have been tasked with providing the creative impetus. Rahim Ali and Vincy Barretto will look to provide quality service to danger-man Kwame Karikari as they attempt to break down a resilient opposition defence. The team has worked tirelessly in practice and will be hopeful of a positive result when they take the field.
Hockey lovers around the nation have a lot to look forward to this Friday as some of the biggest names in the game are set to make their appearance on the field. Providing reliable defense is the solid quartet of Arindam Bhattacharya, Hira, Alex Saji and Tondonba Singh. Joining forces in midfield will be Powerhouse duo Nigam and Joseba Beitia while Parthib Gogoi, Jordan and Jithin Madathil Subran will provide much-needed spark and edge to attack. All these creative players will service Kule Mbombo’s opportunistic runs making for an exciting match indeed!
The Chennaiyin FC, better known as the Marina Machans, have been in formidable form of late – boasting a two-game winning streak which is likely to turn into three after taking on bottom club NorthEast United. NorthEast United, who have had a disappointing season, are likely to find it difficult against a team oozing with confidence after recent victories. It could be argued that Chennaiyin FC have their best chance this season to move into the top four and UNFC Coach Gerard Nus will hope they can capitalize on recent performances and continue their prolific run of results.
Predicted Starting XIs
Chennaiyin (4-1-4-1): Samik Mitra; Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, Fallou Diagne, Vafa Hakhamaneshi, Aakash Sangwan; Julius Duker; Rahim Ali, Jiteshwor Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Vincy Barretto; Kwame Karikari.
NorthEast United (4-2-3-1): Arindam Bhattacharya; Hira Mondal, Alex Saji, Aaron Evans, Tondonba Singh; Gani Nigam, Joseba Beitia; Parthib Gogoi, Wilmar Jordan, Jithin Madathil Subran; Kule Mbombo.