Having picked up just four points from their opening five games in the fourth season of the Indian Super League (ISL), NorthEast United FC will be hungry to log a win against Mumbai City FC here on Wednesday.
Joao Carlos Pires de Deus’s side have found it difficult to breach the opposition defences and score goals. So much so that the Highlanders have netted a grand total of two goals thus far.
Their opponents at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Mumbai City FC, are facing nothing of that sort.
Alexandre Guimaraes team will, in fact, be yearning to relaunch their bid to overtake local rivals FC Pune City and occupy a spot in the top four of the table. This is something they failed to do in their last game, against ATK at home.
While talking to reporters on Tuesday, Joao acknowledged that his team needs to score more goals. But the Portuguese emphasised that “it’s too early” to predict which four teams qualify for the business end of the season.
“We have played five games but no one wins or loses the league after that many games. This is a different type of competition. Even the team that finishes at the top of the table doesn’t win the league. But, of course, we have to win more games and score more goals,” the Portuguese coach said.
NorthEast United will be without their first choice goalkeeper T.P. Rehenesh after he received a direct red card in their last game against Kerala Blasters. But more worryingly for him, it seems he has lost João’s confidence.
When asked about his choice of goalkeeper for Wednesday’s game, João said, “When we started the season, we had three keepers. Obviously TP played the first five because the coach thought he was the best goalkeeper. Now the coach doesn’t think he is the best. Well, now I feel that Ravi Kumar is the best.”
Mumbai will also be without midfielder Sehnaj Singh. The 24-year-old is serving a one-game suspension after having picked up his fourth yellow card of the season last time out.
Guimaraes, however, refused to reveal who will replace Sehnaj for the game.
Having played their last game just three days ago, the Costa Rican tactician did talk about their long travels and tough competition this season.
“We played our last game last Sunday and we had to travel immediately for our next game. But it’s the same with all the teams and I’m looking forward to playing on this (NEUFC) pitch which is one of the best in the league,” he said.