Guwahati: North East United Football Club will look to get back to the top of the points table while Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) will eye redemption when the two sides lock horns in an Indian Super League (ISL) game here on Friday.
Placed second with 10 points from six matches, North East stand a chance to topple table-toppers Mumbai City FC who have 11 points from seven outings.
ATK on the other hand, are still smarting from their first defeat of the season, that too at home to Mumbai.
Not only did they give a poor account of themselves in front of Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry by showing no cohesion whatsoever which allowed Mumbai to not be at their best and still take away all three points due to slack defending, their woes were compounded as coach Jose Molina was given marching orders for arguing with match officials.
The Spaniard won’t be on the touchline when his side take on North East on the morrow.
Uruguayan Emiliano Alfaro will once again be the man tasked to find North East the goals and ATK should be wary of the striker’s knack to find the back of the net. Alfaro is not the highest scorer with four goals but the former Lazio marksman has been influential in all goals his team has scored so far.
In goal, veteran Indian shot-stopper Subrata Paul has been at his imperious best with the most number of saves (27) so far. And with ATK still unsure about whether Helder Postiga is fit to start or not, although the Portuguese marquee was on the bench in the last game, breaching Paul won’t be easy for the likes of off-colour Iain Hume and profligate Juan Belencoso.
What will also work in favour of North East is the week-long rest they got after their solitary goal loss to reigning champions Chennaiyin FC. ATK, meanwhile, have played three back to back home games and are playing another in the space of three days.
ATK have a lot of work to do in order to get their house in order. Besides Javi Lara and Sameehg Doutie in the outfield and Debjit Majumder in goal, none of the others have had an impact. The inaugural champions haven’t been able to translate their domination on games and have been found wanting in front of goal.
The home support at the Indira Gandhi Stadium will also be a factor going in favour of the hosts.
The sides have scored doubles over each other in each of the past two seasons with North East winning both encounters last season and ATK doing the same in 2014.