Khalid Jamil-coached NEUFC have had a torrid outing in the tournament so far losing five of their nine games. While they have been scoring goals, the Highlanders’ biggest concern has been their defence which has let in as many as 19 goals – only Odisha FC have conceded more, and SC East Bengal have let in an equal number.
Despite all the doom and gloom, NorthEast rode on comeback hero Deshorn Brown’s hat-trick to hold leaders Mumbai City FC to a 3-3 draw in their last game and coach Jamil hopes that his wards will be able to continue their good work against the Men of Steel.
“We have had a very good recovery and we are ready for the next match. We are aiming for all the three points. They are a very good team, but we are ready for a fight,” Jamil said during a virtual pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
While NEUFC played their last game 10 days back, JFC will be playing their second game of the new year in just five-days’ time and that will surely give the Highlanders a bit of an advantage.
Keeping the time for recovery aside, the way Jamshedpur have played so far in the tournament, they will go into the match as favourites. They are placed sixth on the table having won three of their nine matches. But their dip in form is worrying and their biggest concern is the strikers’ failure to convert the chances.
Especially in their last game against Chennaiyin, Jamshedpur created a host of opportunities but were unable to make them count. The misses by Ishan Pandita and Seiminlen Doungel were hard to digest. Even Greg Stewart, who have scored five goals to his name, had an off day. But it was Jordan Murray’s showing that was most worrisome and the coach will be more than happy to see the Australian get some shots on target against NEUFC.
“We had wonderful chances, but we missed out on capitalizing on them to score goals. So that’s something we need to be better at as we will make sure we’re clinical in taking chances and avoiding goals by defending better,” said Coyle ahead of the game on Wednesday.
While finishing has been a concern, the coach isn’t too worried about the loss in their last game. And why should he be! A win in the next game will take the team back into top four and that will be enough to get things going once again.