NorthEast United FC will try to take the right steps forward as the Highlanders take on league debutants Jamshedpur FC in the Hero Indian Super League encounter at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday.
For home team’s new coach Joao de Deus, ‘caution’ was the buzzword as the Northeast side will try to get to a positive start to the fresh season.
The Highlanders have never made it to the playoffs in the last three ISL seasons but the Portuguese coach is confident that his team can turn over a new leaf as they start with a home game.
“I can’t speak of the past. At this moment, our team, we have a group of qualified coaches who have deep knowledge of training. But in competition with so much demand, we should be careful in some situation. We are preparing our team in a certain way,” said Joao. He added that he would love to carry his luck to his new team.
The hosts are posing a tough competition for the league debutants Jamshedpur FC with India stars Halicharan Narzary and Rowllin Borges certain starters in the midfield. Although Rowllin’s injury in training has been some cause for concern.
“First, let’s see if he is on the field tomorrow. If he is not available obviously we are not going to play with just 10 players. He’ll be in the XI if he is fit,” said the coach.
For Jamshedpur FC, the opening game will be their first taste of ISL action. “I am excited about our first match. My squad has been preparing for six to seven weeks. I think we are all raring to go. Looking for the challenge. We are a new franchise but that doesn’t make a great deal of difference,” said Jamshedpur FC coach Steve Coppell.
Even though Jamshedpur FC is new to the ISL, they have enough experience in their ranks, starting with their coach who guided Kerala Blasters to the final last season. On the field, there will be Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo in defence, South African Sameehg Doutie in midfield and Senegalese striker Talla N’Diaye.
“Coming here (Guwahati) for the first match of the season is difficult. They have got a good team and we don’t know much about them as a team. Once we get a few games under our belt, we can prepare better for our oppositions,” said Coppell.