Gerard Nus’ side lock horns with Owen Coyle’s men tonight at Tilak Maidan stadium in the Indian Super League (ISL). NorthEast are one of the three unbeaten sides in this season’s competition and can move up to the top of the table if they win by three goals tonight. It will also be their longest ever unbeaten run in the ISL if they avoid defeat tonight. On the other hand, Jamshedpur FC are unbeaten in five and have shown that they play their best football when they have their backs to the wall. Here are the important facets that will play a key role in deciding the outcome tonight.
The central defenders’ face off
This is going to be one of the most interesting aspects of tonight’s match. For NorthEast, Benjamin Lambot and Dylan Fox have been very impressive and their partnership has been the gold standard for central defensive pairings in the league so far. Similarly, Peter Hartley and Stephen Eze are slowly coming into their own with each match and have led the line well in the last few matches. It might come down to whichever duo makes less mistakes that decides the fate of the match.
Support provided to Nerijus Valskis
The Lithuanian is leading the race for the golden boot alongside Igor Angulo with six goals in six matches. The best part of his game is that he can stay uninvolved in the match for long stretches, but if given a sniff, he can put that right foot of his to disastrous effect. However, he tends to drift off during matches, especially if the service is not to his liking. That is where the likes of Jackichand Singh, William Lalnunfela and Aniket Jadhav need to put their hands up and get the ball to him in dangerous situations. This becomes all the more important because they need others to find the net as well but for that, the midfielders need to make those late runs inside the box.
Containing Luis Machado’s progressive runs
The Portuguese winger has improved by leaps and bounds this season. Although he started slowly, he has now become one of the mainstays in the side and plays an important role in establishing the supply line for Idrissa Sylla and Kwesi Appiah. He can play both as the left sided central midfielder as well as a winger and that makes him crucial to Gerard Nus’ plans. Nothing highlights that better than the 18 tackles that complement the two goals that he has scored so far. Interrupting his marauding runs and keeping him quiet will therefore be vital for Jamshedpur.
Two in-form goalkeepers go up against each other
Both TP Rehenesh and Gurmeet Singh have been excellent so far. While the former leads the goalkeeping pack with 18 saves in five matches, the latter has 11 in four. Rehenesh’s strength is his shot-stopping whereas his younger counterpart seems to have extremely good command inside the penalty area and organises his defence well. With the two sides having some in-form goalscorers, it will be interesting to see who comes on top tonight between the two custodians.