NorthEast United will face Bengaluru FC on Monday in the second leg of the Indian Super League 2018-19 Semi Final. The Highlanders are 2-1 up on aggregate and will look for at least a draw on Monday to seal their maiden appearance at the ISL finals.
For Bengaluru, it will be a must win game as they went down to NEUFC in the first leg played at Guwahati on March 7.
Coach Eelco Schattorie will need to stretch his resources to the hilt after a fine victory which came at a cost. Having made it to the play-offs for the first time in their history, NorthEast United will have to make do without the services of their star forward Bartholomew Ogbeche in Bengaluru.
The Nigerian forward picked up a hamstring injury in the first-leg and he will be a big miss for the visitors on Sunday. The visitors are also sweating on the fitness of their midfielder Rowllin Borges who was replaced in the second-half at Guwahati due to an injury.
With Ogbeche out, NorthEast United will look towards Federico Gallego for inspiration with the industrious Uruguayan playmaker being one of the driving forces behind the side’s march to the play-offs. Gallego’s partnership with his compatriot Juan Mascia up top will be crucial to the visitors’ chances with the latter likely to start in Ogbeche’s absence after his late winner from the penalty spot in Guwahati.
“I know exactly how Bengaluru FC play and they know how we play. Last game, first half we completely dominated. We lost two key players. Second half was way more difficult. But it had to with the changes we did in the team. But coming here we know that this is a game that is all or nothing. We will be trying to reach the final,” said Schattorie.
Both coaches know this is the decisive clash. Both will be without their deputies after they were suspended for their role in the fracas that followed the first-leg clash at Guwahati. Both know there is just too much at stake now.