After suffering four back to back losses and managing just four points from seven matches, NorthEast United finally managed to get the taste of victory on their home turf this season. The Highlanders had so far managed to score two goals prior to this match which came in their win over Delhi Dynamos FC. In their 50th match of the Hero Indian Super League, NorthEast United scored twice to defeat FC Goa 2-1 to register their first win of this year. We take a look at the 5 talking points from this encounter:
1: New Management; Revamped Team:
NorthEast United FC, after suffering four successive losses which included a 5-0 loss against FC Pune City decided to end the terms with Joao de Deus and in came former Chelsea, West Ham United and Portsmouth coach Avram Grant as the Advisor of the club. He was soon joined by I-League side Kingfisher East Bengal’s former coach Eelco Schattorie who joined the club as the assistant coach.
Prior to the match Goalkeeping coach Joseph Siddy said, “The mood in the dressing room has completely changed with the change in coaching staffs. The boys all geared up for this match.”
And the changes definitely brought in the results. The boys in white were much dominating in the attacking half and looked quite organized defensively throughout the match. After the win, experienced defender Nirmal Chhetri said “The new coaching staff has brought in some luck for us. Though it has only been only two days, they have brought in some tactical changes and we think we can do much better in the next game with few days in hand.”
2. FC Goa’s tight set of fixtures:
In their last fixture against ATK, FC Goa had to come to the stadium straight from the airport and then warm up in their travelling gears and were made to play the game as late as 10:45 PM. ” It was very difficult for us, the only good thing about that match is that none of the players came out injured, ” said coach Sergio Lobera
The Gaurs were to play their match against The Highlanders just after 67 mere hours after their tiring match against ATK and were forced to make some changes in their starting lineup. Coach Lobera didn’t have his best back four at his service.
Bruno Pinheiro, Mohamed Ali and Narayan Das didn’t make it to the starting eleven who were very crucial in each of FC Goa’s matches. Midfield marshall Edu Bedia too didn’t make the cut because of tiredness. These forced changes allowed the hosts to make the best out of it and they did no mistake this time to keep home the three points.
3. Guwahati records lowest ever attendance:
After witnessing just 8762 people in their last home match against Mumbai City FC, the NorthEast United management seemed all worried about the numbers. And to add to their worries, the team was handed a thrashing 5-0 defeat by FC Pune City which led to Guwahati’s lowest ever attendance in an ISL game, 5103.
With the 8 PM kick-off already lowering the attendance, the poor form of the team’s performance served as a catalyst. The previous lowest attendance was against FC Pune City in the last season which too saw a poor little run before the game.
Though the numbers were low, the crowd didn’t stop being loud with their chants and made their presence felt. The Highlander Brigade, NorthEast United’s only fan group did their best throughout the game to allow the home players push that extra bit. After the match, Nirmal said, “The crowd has been really behind us. Credit to The Highlander Brigade who have been with us through thick and thin. Hope in the remaining matches we will see more fans backing us.”
4. Refereeing Blunders continues:
Almost every match of Hero ISL 2017/18 season has seen some terrible refereeing decisions being made. This match wasn’t any different too. In the first half, NorthEast defender Nirmal Chhetri got away with from getting his second yellow after he fouled Brandon. The referee awarded an indirect freekick to NorthEast after Kattimani handled a backpass, but, video replay showed that it was not an intentional back pass.
In the later stages of the game, FC Goa’s midfielder Edu Bedia lunged in with a two-footed tackle on Nirmal but the player got away without getting into the referee’s book. At the same time, Rowlin Borges pushed down a Goa player out of frustration but got away with a yellow.
5. Ashley Westwood in the stands:
Though the crowd was very less, there was one familiar face in the stands; former Bengaluru FC head coach and currently the technical director of ATK was seen in the stands watching the game and making notes. NorthEast United FC’s next game is against ATK on 12th, so it wasn’t a total surprise to see the Englishman in the stands.