ISL 2023-24: Promising Playoffs prospects strengthen NorthEast United FC’s resolve against Hyderabad FC

 - Sakshi Post

Hyderabad, March 3 (IANS) NorthEast United FC will hope to make a decisive push to make it to the top-six when they play Hyderabad FC in a crucial match in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 at the Gachibowli Stadium, here on Monday. Having lost just one of their last four matches, the Highlanders are now within an arm’s length of the Playoffs spots. They have 19 points from 16 games, placing them at the eighth place in the table.

Thus, they are just two points behind the sixth-placed Bengaluru FC (21), having two games in hand as compared to the Blues who have already played 18 matches. The Highlanders have secured victories against East Bengal FC and FC Goa since the season resumed after the break at the halfway mark. They gave Mohun Bagan Super Giant a tough run for their money amidst a 4-2 defeat and held Jamshedpur FC to a 1-1 draw.

Returning to action after 11 days, the Juan Pedro Benali-coached side must have had ample time to reflect and recharge for the next six games against a Hyderabad FC unit that is winless after 17 games, losing all five of their previous encounters this season.

Form might not be favouring them, but Hyderabad FC has a formidable past record against the Highlanders to fall back on. Indeed, they are unbeaten in their last eight fixtures against NorthEast United FC, winning six and drawing twice in the duration. Against no other team has Hyderabad FC recorded a longer unbeaten streak in ISL history. However, the troubles in their frontline refuse to cool down, with the team failing to find the back of the net in each of their previous six home matches.

This is the longest such streak for any team in the history of the ISL. Another worrying sign has been their inability to start games on a strong footing, conceding seven goals in the first 15 minutes of their matches in the competition.

In contrast, the Highlanders like to push the opponent back early, scoring six goals in this phase of the game in ISL 2023-24, which is the joint-highest amongst all teams. In all fairness, Hyderabad FC has had ample time to get a stock of their strengths, weaknesses, and the same of NorthEast United FC in the coming fixture. Whether they act on the same to produce inspiring performances on the field remains to be seen.

Juan Pedro Benali has brought in many positives for NorthEast United FC lately, the most recent of them being breaking their 24-game-long winless streak in away matches by beating FC Goa by 2-0 at the Fatorda Stadium last month.

The last time they won consecutive away fixtures was a stretch of four games in October-November 2018, with Benali perhaps hoping to steer towards the same starting with this faceoff against Hyderabad FC. Hyderabad FC and their recent streak of failing to score in home matches should encourage the Highlanders to seek their first run of successive clean sheets since November-December 2018.

Incidentally, the 2018-19 season was also the time when the Highlanders made it to the semifinals under the watch of Eelco Schattorie, and they are on the brink of doing so again this time around.

There exists a sense of unpredictability in their frontline that can catch the opponent off-guard at any given moment. For instance, they have netted seven goals from outside the box this season, which is the joint-highest amongst all teams with Jamshedpur FC. Thus, they have many tricks that they can pull off in the home of Hyderabad FC.

The teams have played against each other on nine occasions with NorthEast United winning six matches and Hyderabad only 1 with two draws.

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by the Sakshi Post team and is auto-generated from syndicated feed.

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