NorthEast United FC coach Nelo Vingada is a disappointed man, not because of his team's performance in ISL 2016, but due to the tight schedule. The Indian Super League side play their third match of the season in six days on Friday when they take on Mumbai City FC.
Fatigue is a real concern for NorthEast United FC, who have been really impressive so far. They won their inaugural game 1-0 against the Kerala Blasters, while they won 2-0 against FC Goa in their following game.
"The league is going on and for us any game will be tough. Third game in six days and this in any situation will be hard," said Vingada in the pre-match presser.
Not conceding a goal over the two games makes a really good reading, but it needs to be seen whether experienced Indian custodian Subrata Paul can prevent the South American forwards Diego Forlan and Matias Defederico, who play for Mumbai, from scoring on Friday or not. The bad news for the away side is that defender Mailson Alves is injured and therefore, unavailable for the match.
Marquee player Didier Zokora is thus expected to start in defence in the match, alongside Nirmal Chhetri who will take the right-back position.
For the home side, the occasion of the match is fitting as the Indian Super League makes its much-awaited debut at the Mumbai Football Arena. The mood in the Mumbai camp is definitely upbeat but missing the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Amrinder Singh and Sony Norde makes it a bit troublesome for coach Alexandre Guimaraes.
Nevertheless, the existing players can make all the difference in the match. Indian star forward Jackichand Singh is expected to get a greater game time than in Mumbai's match against Pune. Brazilian forward Otacilio Brito Alves (Cafu) is, however, expected to start the match alongside Forlan and Defederico.
"Yes, we are trying to find solutions in offence and also for him not to have all the responsibility to score. A few days before the Pune game we had a situation with Gaston [Sangoy] getting injured which was a big blow to us because he was our top-scorer in the pre-season," said Guimaraes.
"We also don't have Sony [Norde], a big miss for us in offence. But I think we managed well, tomorrow will be another test for us to improve in that area."