GUWAHATI: NorthEast United FC have only 35.8 per cent chance of qualification to semi-finals of Hero Indian Super League but despite having the least chance among four hopefuls, they are staying calm and positive.
NorthEast United need to garner maximum points from their remaining matches to have a chance of winning a place among the top-four and the Highlanders will start their mission at home with a crucial clash against Delhi Dynamos at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati, on Tuesday.
Nelo Vingada’s team were down and almost out in their last clash against Chennaiyin FC until Shouvik Ghosh rose high in injury time to tie the match at 3-3, win a crucial point and keep NorthEast United in the race for a semi-final spot. It was a thrilling finish to the match but Vingada said his side were entirely deserving of a point despite the late winner.
“If you tell me we were lucky to score in the last minute, then yes we were lucky but we fought to bring that luck for us and we created chances to score, and honestly I think we deserved the draw. It is the correct result and the result is very important for us as it lifts our morale. We will put in a strong effort in the next two games,” Vingada said after the match.
Vingada will have to do a balancing act with his squad selection as two of his players — Koffi Ndri (Romaric) and Nicolas Velez – are both on three bookings. Another booking and they could miss the crucial, deciding clash against Kerala Blasters. Fortunately for the hosts, defensive midfielder Rowlin Borges will return to the squad after serving a match suspension and Vingada could also restore Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa to the starting line-up.
Delhi Dynamos have nothing to worry after sitting second on table with 20 points from 12 matches and head into their penultimate clash after a 5-1 drubbing of FC Goa.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t reached the semi-finals as yet. So we have to focus on our next game, which is against a very difficult team, and for this reason it’s very important to plan step by step,” said coach Gianluca Zambrotta.
Indications are that, with a 99.59 per cent chance of qualification to the semi-finals, Zambrotta could give some of his overworked players deserving rest
“We need to look at our players’ conditions and recovery and as of now I haven’t planned anything tactical for the match against NorthEast,” said the Italian World Cup winner.
Delhi Dynamos will play their concluding league clash against Mumbai City FC on December 3.