Preview: NorthEast United FC, though short on points, will not be lacking motivation as they host Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Friday.
NorthEast have just seven points from their nine first leg matches and need to start a string of wins in the second half of their campaign to entertain any hopes of making it to the semi-finals.
Technical advisor Avram Grant, formerly with Chelsea FC, has tried to inspire the team but with their defeat in the last match against ATK at home suggests, it's not been easy.
All is still not lost for NorthEast and assistant coach Eelco Schattorie can see that his team is still up for a fight.
"The overall atmosphere is fine. Players have the intention to do their job. They are motivated to do something together. Regarding the team gelling or getting tactics implemented, that always takes time, specially offensively. Defensively we don't have too many problems," Schattorie said during the pre-match media interaction.
NorthEast will battle for points against the table-toppers and Schattorie felt the coaching staff will not have to do much on the motivation bit.
"We play the number one team and normally as a coach you don't have to motivate anyone if you play the number one in the league," he said.
NorthEast have signed Helio Pinto as their additional (eight) international player and the former Benfica midfielder could have a role to play.
Chennaiyin, too, won't need too much of pep talk from coach John Gregory as they attempt to win as many matches possible to secure their position at the top of the table.
"John has been a big inspiration for the team. Once the players get inside (the field), they are the boss and nothing matters. The boys are really motivated. They want to win all these games for John," said assistant coach Syed Sabir Pasha, filling in for suspended head coach to addressed media on the eve.
John will be serving his last of the three-match suspension.
Despite the 13 points separating them to the home team, Chennaiyin FC are not taking anything for granted.
"Every match is important. Delhi (Dynamos) drew with us and we cannot take any team lightly. Every team is good and have important players. We are coming away from home and playing in different conditions. It's always difficult. We must take these three points," said Pasha.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Jan 19, 2018 22:35:05 IST