The first round of Indian Super League is over and we have been able to witness all the teams in action. Guwahati, which saw full house in the last game against Kerala Blasters will now be hosting table toppers Atletico de Kolkata (ATK), who will take on North East United FC (NEUFC).
Both the team have three points in their kitty, but ATK has been much more impressive than NEUFC, who toiled hard for their 1-0 win against Kerala. ATK comfortably won 3-0 against a Mumbai City FC.
The Kolkata team will try to control the midfield with some good combination play, short passing and retention of possession. However, they also allow the opposition to come forward and play some clever long passes to their lone striker Fikru Teferra. The presence of experienced holding midfielders like Borja Fernandes and Ofentse Nato enables solidity in the ATK midfield. In the wings, Baljit Singh and Jofre Mateu will be making forays in the opposition box and will combine with the brilliant Luis Garcia, who takes the attacking midfield position. Fikru Teferra, as the lone striker has successfully tormented the Mumbai City defenders with his clever, well timed runs. Fikru not only scored the first ATK goal, but also provided assist for the 3rd goal. The defence might be a matter of concern for ATK, with 3 of the back four being Indian players – Biswajit Saha, Arnab Mandol and Denzil Franco. Spanish defender Josemi partners with Arnab and will have to marshal his backline. In the match against Mumbai, the defenders did allow many Mumbai City attacks, but the brilliance of Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, the goalkeeper, allowed them to keep clean sheet. Subhasish was highly praised for multiple saves and is likely to keep his position as the first choice goalkeeper.
Ricki Herbert’s NEUFC is likely to play a defensive, counter attacking game. In the last game, he fielded 5 defenders – Miguel Garcia, Aibor Khongjee, Robin Gurung, Zohmingliana Ralte and marquee player Capdevilla. During attack the team is expected to transform to 3 man defence, with the wing backs helping in attack. Behind them is Greek goalkeeper, Tzorvas, who had a brilliant game against Kerala. In front of the defenders, Guilherme Felipe de Castro provides a defensive screen with his tough tackling and also helps initiating counter attacks. Durga Boro, David Ngaihte provide speed for the counter attacks, with Koke playing the role of a No. 10. James Keene plays the lone striker role, however he was not very impressive in the first game. One player who can play a cameo and torment the old, tiring midfield of ATK is Dong-Hyun. The South Korean, Dong-Hyun came as a substitute in the last game, his speed was impressive although he was unable to use his speed to good use.
The game is expected to be played mostly in NEUFC half with ATK players dominating possession, with some fast counter attacks from The Highlanders. Ricki Herbert conceded that his team is low in experience, when compared to ATK, but his young players quickly adapting to the demands of ISL. He also mentioned that Durga Boro may or may not be available based on his fitness test at the last moment.
Luis Garcia said that ATK will aim to maintain their momentum and it is too early to predict the opposition. He said that the Kolkata team will focus on their own game. He also said that they are not particularly focusing on any particular NEUFC players.
Prediction : North East United FC 0 – 2 Atletico de Kolkata
TV and Live Stream Information
The match will start at 7 pm in India. It will be telecast live in Star Sports 2, Star Sports 3, Star Utsav, Star Gold, Jalsa Movies, Asianet movies. Fox Sports 2 will also show the game in Australia and United States.
A live stream of the game can also be accessed from Star sports live pro.