Panaji (Goa) [India], December 9 (ANI): Odisha FC will look to get back to winning ways and close the gap at the top of the table when they take on NorthEast United FC in the 2021-22 Indian Super League (ISL) at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday.
Odisha, who finished rock-bottom last season, got off to a flying start this time with two wins in two games. But their dream run came to an abrupt half when they lost to Kerala Blasters 1-2 in their last outing.
Placed fifth in the points table with six points from three games, the Kiko Ramirez-coached side have all to play for on the morrow as a win will catapult them back among the top four teams.
Ramirez said that it was a hard week for his team as few players have muscle injuries.
“There is a small gap between matches so players are having muscle injuries so it was a hard week,” he said in the pre-match press conference as per ISL.
On NorthEast United, he added: “They are a good side. They defend in a compact way. They can put us in trouble. We have prepared well for the match.”
Jonathas Cristian was not available in the last game. Asked about his status, Ramirez said: “He is improving. He is coming to training. But we need to wait till the last minute to take a call on him.”
NorthEast United, meanwhile, rode on goals from Rochharzela and Khassa Camara to log their first three points of the season. The Highlanders have four points from four matches and are placed eighth in the points table.
Camara scored in the dying minutes of the match to hand his side a win against FC Goa and the manner of the victory should boost the team’s morale.
“It is very important for us, the game against Odisha. They are a tough opponent and have played well in the first three matches,” NorthEast United FC coach Khalid Jamil said. “We have to be alert and we can’t take the game lightly,” he added.
Asked about NorthEast United’s defence against Odisha’s defence, Jamil said: “We have to be alert as I said. They will come hard at us and we have to be on our toes.”
NorthEast United will miss the services of Federico Gallego who has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to an injury he picked up in the match against Chennaiyin last week. The Uruguayan had played an influential role in NorthEast United’s runs to the semi-finals in the past.
Jamil remained coy when asked about an update on a foreign player replacement. “Our focus is on the next game,” he signed off. (ANI)