NorthEast United FC players warming up | Photo: ISL

NorthEast United will begin the new year with their Indian Super League match against ATK Mohun Bagan on January 3.

The Guwahati-based ISL side will look to bounce back soon enough as they are winless in their last four games. After their early season form propelled them up the table, the Highlanders since lost ground.

NorthEast United coach Gerard Nus is aware that ATKMB will present them with a tough test.

“They are one of the hardest teams to play against and there’s no question about it,” he said on January 2.

“We’re seeing why. We knew they would be on the top because they have really amazing players. They have been consistent through the years. They retained many players that they got in the squad and that obviously helps in a short tournament like this,” the NorthEast United coach added.

While Ghanaian strike man Kwesi Appiah is doubtful for the game, much will rest upon Federico Gallego and the impressive young triumvirate of Lalengmawia, Rochharzela and Ninthoinganba Meetei to provide the impetus going forward as the Guwahati side looks to reboot into top form against top opposition.

NorthEast United: A challange for ATK Mohun Bagan

While NorthEast United will look to regain winning form, ATK Mohun Bagan will be keen to keep their dominance intact in the league.

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Edging ahead of the chasing pack, the Mariners have set themselves a perfect base to emerge as early contenders for top honours with only Mumbai City for now, posing a real threat.

However, if there is one thing that ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Lopez Habas would want, it will arguably be for his strikers to get more goals as the Green and Maroons appear solid defensively.

ATKMB’s strikers have been going through a rather hit-and-miss phase with only three goals coming in their last four games. This was on display in their previous game against Chennaiyin FC – a goalless draw.

However, Habas is not worried. “I would be worried if we did not have the chances to score,” he said.

“In football, you can do in one moment, what was not possible for you in the three matches before. All situations are different situations during the 90 minutes,” he added.

Of ATKMB’s strikers, one name has stood out throughout the season — Roy Krishna. Time and again, this season, Krishna has dug his team out from sticky situations with timely goals. Of ATKMB’s five wins so far, he scored the winner in four. However, he has been in lukewarm form of late and has not scored from open play for nearly a month.

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However, Habas maintained that goalscoring was a collective responsibility, not a single player’s task. “I have to analyse the performance of the whole team and not just Roy Krishna. And the team’s performance is 100 percent.” he said.

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