NorthEast United FC are set to take on FC Goa in the 12th game of the Indian Super League on Thursday evening, as the action shifts to the wonderful Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.
The home side are currently rockbottom in the league, but make no mistake, they have certain players who can make a turnaround and award them their first three points of the season. The franchisee's marquee player Simao Sabrosa has still not been featured, and the North East Indian side has really missed his experience so far.
For Goa, marquee player Lucio has been at the top of his form in the previous games for the franchisee, as they recorded just a single loss from their three games so far. Coming into the game at the backdrop of a heavy 4-0 defeat against Chennaiyin FC at home can also be seen as a morale booster for them as they prepare to show their fightback in their game on Thursday.
Here are some of the key players from both teams who can play an instrumental part for their sides on 15 October:
NorthEast United FC
Nico Velez – The Argentine striker has been a pure revelation for NorthEast United FC this season, even though the side has not recorded any win so far. The 25-year-old forward's performance upfront has stolen limelight this season, as his innumerable shots on goal, precision crosses, as well as good link-up play with other strikers like Diomansy Kamara upfront has really given that lethal attacking teeth to the side. And it's a shame that Velez has not got on the scoresheet yet for the Highlanders this season.
Sanju Pradhan – The former Atletico de Kolkata and East Bengal winger is set to be an important part of Cesar Farias' plans tonight with big names like Simao, Kondwani Mtonga and Seityasen Singh all sidelined for the game. The 26-year-old Sikkim star, who won the Nehru Cup in 2012, with the India senior national team , is expected to put another strong display of his pace and inter-passing, mainly from the right flank, and also join the attack from the middle of the field, on occasions.
His link-up play with the forwards is another highlight of his game.
Jofre - The Spaniard is turning out to be one of the best midfielders to have played in the Indian Super League. The former Barcelona man remained absolutely superlative for his side during their match against Atletico de Kolkata this season. The former ATK man is known for his penetration and lethal passes to release Indian wingers like Romeo Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai from the flanks.
And in the absence of Lucio tonight, the midfield maestro is expected to take up the captain's armband.
Romeo Fernandes - The 23-year-old Indian winger who is yet to receive a cap for the senior national team is another player who can turnaround any game. Just point out any position in the field, and you find the Goan player there. From making jaw-dropping bursts of sprint to delivering dangerous crosses in the box and being a constant figure on the pitch, Romeo, on his day, can be one of the strongest players on the pitch.
And his development under Zico is turning out to be really fruitful.