NorthEast United FC have a chance to open the gap at the top when they host defending champions Chennaiyin FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) football clash in Guwahati on Thursday.
NorthEast United have led the standings since their opening day win over Kerala Blasters FC. They now have 10 points from five matches, and a win against the defending champions at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium will open a clear five-point gap at the top of the table.
“I am sure that in Guwahati and other regions in the north-east, people will take pride in these players and this team. We reached 10 points so far, which is good but we have not yet reached our target, which is to play the semi-finals,” said NorthEast manager Nelo Vingada, in a release.
NorthEast managed a fighting 1-1 draw against Delhi Dynamos in the previous match and Vingada believes they can match any team in the league.
“We need more points but I’m very confident because in these five games our team has kept improving and now we can play anywhere against anyone and give a fight. But of course we play to win.”
“I’m very happy to be part of this league, this country and the atmosphere is great,” added Vingada.
Even Dynamos coach Gianluca Zambrotta praised NorthEast as the “best football playing team at present” in ISL.
Chennaiyin FC have lost both their away matches here in the two years since the tournament came into existence.
Chennaiyin coach Marco Materazzi will hope to change his away record here having won against FC Goa. They will not be short on confidence after registering their first win this season 2-0 against FC Goa 2-0.
Goals from Hans Mulder and Mehrajuddin Wadoo in the first half were enough to collect full points after a draw against Atletico de Kolkata and loss against Delhi Dynamos.
“We came in with a whole new mentality and what I told my players is that if we put the heart in, the will, the hunger, then we can win. If not then we are not the same team and we can be at the bottom of the table,” said Materazzi.
Chennaiyin FC are placed sixth at the moment with four points from three matches.