As the Juggernauts host NorthEast United at Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday, the Kiko Ramirez-coached side will look to bounce back to winning ways and consolidate their position on the league table.
However, their task will be cut out against a side who tasted their first full points on fourth attempt and will be eager to continue winning run to come up the table. “We won two matches and we lost the third. At this moment, we are focussed in rectifying the mistakes from the last match,” Odisha gaffer Ramirez said about their opponents on Thursday.
Asked about NorthEast and their expectations from the match, the Spaniard said, “They are a strong team. They are powerful in the physical aspects and transitions. They defend in a compact way. They can put us in trouble. We know this is going to be a tough game. We are well prepared for the match.”
Brazilian striker Jonathas de Jesus couldn’t play last match with a muscle injury and he is a doubtful for Friday, too. “Jonathas is improving, he is getting better and he is going to the training sessions. But we need to wait till the last moment to decide if he is going to join the team or not. It was a hard week. Although not big but players have muscle injuries because there are very small gaps between matches,” Ramirez said in the pre-match press conference.
Meanwhile, starting off with two losses and a draw, the Hghlanders will take heart from the way they won the last match, their first of the season, that, too, without their inspirational playmaker Federico Gallego. Rochharzela had scored first before Khassa Camara struck in dying moments to snatch victory against FC Goa.
“It is very important for us, the game against Odisha. They are a tough opponent and have played well in the first three matches,” NorthEast coach Khalid Jamil said ahead of their match. “We have to be alert and we can’t take the game lightly,” added Jamil.
Asked about their defence in comparison with Odisha’s backline, Jamil signed off saying, “We have to be alert as I said. They will come hard at us and we have to be on our toes.”