Two teams reeling from a disappointing season will cross swords looking to avoid a bottom-placed finish, in the Indian Super League (ISL) on February 28.
A game of academic interest for the neutral, NorthEast United and SC East Bengal will know that this game is a virtual shootout for them in order to stave off a rock-bottom finish. SC East Bengal are 11th with 10 points from 18 games while NorthEast United have only one match to play, having 13 points.
If the red and golds beat NorthEast United and Bengaluru FC in their remaining two encounters, they will finish on 16 points but a win for NorthEast on February 28 will ensure them a 10th spot finish.
It has been a season to forget for both outfits, SC East Bengal managing just one win so far while NorthEast United have three victories to show for.
“This match is crucial because if we win, we will leapfrog them in the league table. We are playing well, but we want that to reflect in the match result too,” said SC East Bengal head coach Mario Rivera ahead of the tie.
“Our approach in the last two matches will be the same as the previous matches: to win. We will do everything we can to get three points,” the Spaniard added.
The Kolkata side will miss the services of Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Jackichand Singh with the duo being injured. “Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Jackichand Singh are out of contention for this game with injuries,” said Rivera.
For the Highlanders, it will be about finishing the season on a high and with Marcelinho looking in good touch, Khalid Jamil will be hopeful they can achieve their goal. Marcelinho had been putting up impressive performances for NEUFC, but he finally got his first goal for the club in their loss to Jamshedpur FC.
“It’s important to finish with a win. For us and the fans and show for next season. We are working in that aspect and to finish with good feelings,” said goalkeeping coach Asier Rey.
“We have all the players ready and we will see today in training,” he added when asked about injury concerns in the team. The last time they met, NorthEast United ran out 2-0 winners.