Playoffs hopeful Northeast will face Bengal in Indian Football League to look for full three points tonight. Meanwhile, Bengal would aim for a middle-table finish with two games in hand.
Match Timings: Feb 23, 7:30 PM IST
In the second game of the final week, Northeast and Bengal will lock horns in Indian Football League. Mumbai and Mariners have already booked their place in the playoff. For the remaining two spots, Northeast have a fight with Hyderabad and Goa. The hosts defeated Bengaluru to boost its chances with 30 points. No team can drop points this week. In the last outing, Northeast managed to earn one point from Chennai. It was purely Chennai’s game, but an injury-time goal from Luis Machado made all the difference.
Marina Machans made a good start when Lallianzuala Chhangte scored in the eighth minute. Northeast didn’t wait much and equalized six minutes later when Imran Khan struck from a low header. Just before the first-half break, Deshorn Brown provided a lead with a strike in the 43rd minute. The second half started with a bang for Marina Machans. They scored two goals in two minutes to take a 3-2 lead. First, Manuel Lanzarote scored through a penalty, and then Lallianzuala Chhangte completed his brace. Chhangte got a pass from Edwin Vanspaul and took a shot. Subhasish had no answer to this deflection, and Chennai regained their lead. The match was in full control of Chennai, but Highlanders scored the equaliser in injury-time when Luis Machado scored from the penalty spot. Northeast have the weak goal-difference among three contenders, so they would also eye a better win tonight.
Meanwhile, Bengal have nothing to lose, but they can aim for a mid-table finish if they earn some points in the final two matches. Their campaign has been a roller-coaster ride. They started poorly but showed some fire in the middle-half, especially after the new signings in January, but in February, they lost the rhythm. Their points are tied with Kerala, and Bengal would take the challenge of avoiding the bottom-two finish.
In the last outing, they suffered a 3-1 defeat in the Kolkata derby, and the Mariners made the league-double in the debut season. Habas’ men were a far better side on game day. Krishna, Williams, and Javier Hernandez scored for the Mariners, and Bengal managed just one consolation goal, which came through through an own goal from Tiri. Subrata Paul made some quality saves, but he looked sloppy. Raju Gaikwad was the best performer from Bengal who was involved in Tiri’s own goal. Daniel Fox was average and allowed Krishna to set up Williams for the second goal. Fowler’s side will enter into this fixture with a clear mindset. Six points from the final two can help Bengal to finish in the mid-table.
Possible Lineups & Current Form
Subrata Paul; Sarthak Golui, Raju Gaikwad, Daniel Fox, Narayan Das, Ankit Mukherjee, Sourav Das, Anthony Pilkington, Matti Steinmann, Jacques Maghoma, Bright Enobakhare
Current Form: L D W L D
Previous Match: 3-1 defeat to Mohun B.
Subhasish Roy; Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Provat Lakra, Ashutosh Mehta, Lalengmawia, Khassa Camara, Imran Khan, Luis Machado, Deshorn Brown, Suhair VP