NorthEast United FC players training ahead of their match against SC East Bengal, in the Indian Super League, at Fatorda in Goa. Pal Pillai/ISL

NorthEast United FC players training ahead of their match against SC East Bengal, in the Indian Super League, at Fatorda in Goa. Pal Pillai/ISL

Highlanders aim to bounce back against winless SC East Bengal

Fatorda (Goa), December 16, 2021

Their backs to the wall after suffering a heavy defeat, NorthEast United FC will look to get back to winning ways against winless SC East Bengal in the 2021-22 Hero Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda on Friday.

Khalid Jamil's NorthEast United were humbled by Hyderabad FC but in SC East Bengal, they will take on an opponent who are even lower in confidence, rooted to the foot of the table without a single win.

NorthEast United have conceded 11 goals from open play in Hero ISL 21-22, the most of any team this season, underlining their defensive woes. The Highlanders, like SC East Bengal, have injury concerns but one player that has remained consistent is VP Suhair. In the 478 minutes played by Suhair this season, he has one goal and an assist to his name.

"Our start has not been that great. We missed a lot of players through injury. I am not giving any excuse but I have never got all my six foreigners fit for selection in any game. Deshorn Brown is nursing a hamstring. Khassa Camara and Hernan Santana are doubtful for the game," revealed Jamil.

"I don't agree that the team's morale is down. In football, sometimes you don't get what you want, for that you have to work hard. It does not matter if we play good or bad, all that matters is the three points," Jamil added.

For the Red and Golds, it has been a similar start to the season as last term, failing to win a single game after six matches. The likes of Arindam Bhattacharya, Jackichand Singh and Darren Sidoel being injured hasn't helped the cause but they have looked like a disjointed unit and lacking quality in the games so far. The Kolkata side drew 1-1 against Kerala Blasters in the last game and will hope to go one up against NorthEast United.

SC East Bengal have been effective from set-pieces with seven out of the nine goals coming from that source. They have scored around 77% of their total goals from set-pieces while NorthEast United have conceded just two goals from set-pieces, the joint-best record in the league with Chennaiyin FC (2). Jose Manuel Diaz said, "We have come close to winning in a few games but we have failed to take those opportunities. We can't afford to make mistakes against NorthEast. They were in the semifinals last time, so we can't take them lightly."

For SC East Bengal, Antonio Perosevic will be key. The Croatian forward has looked in fine fettle in recent matches and no player in Hero ISL 21-22 has attempted more shots than him.


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