NorthEast United vs Goa: Preview and Prediction

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Goan triumph-chariot seems unstoppable at the moment

The first half of the 2023-24 Indian Super League season comes to its final chapter as we are all set to witness the last ISL battle of the calendar year 2023. 

In the final fixture of Matchday 12, table-toppers Goa will be facing a courageous NorthEast United side to defend their unbeaten record. This second game of the double-header Friday will be hosted by the Highlanders at Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium of Guwahati.

In a recent turn of events, Mumbai City suffered their first defeat of the season and Goa remains the only side to thrive on an unbeaten run in the 2023-24 ISL edition. The Goan boss Manolo Marquez already has the table-toppers crown in his possession and will be eyeing to welcome the year 2024 with an invincible record. 

After an inconsistent start to their league campaign, the Highlanders have managed to bring stability to the roster and are gradually making progress in the leaderboards. The eighth-placed side has fetched 11 points from 11 games and is on the verge of barging into the playoff spots. 

Current Form

The Highlanders are in desperate search of a breakthrough win

After their crushing win over Jamshedpur in the final matchday of October 2023, the Highlanders are going on a winless run of six straight fixtures. They recently overtook Bengaluru in the points table after playing the second draw of the season with the Blues. An 85th-minute penalty conversion from Nestor Albiach brought them onto the driving seat but a late equalizer eventually foiled the Christmas Eve of the Northeastern Reds at the Kanteerava Stadium. 

On the other hand, the Gaurs are thoroughly enjoying their invincible run in the league and have dropped points only on a single occasion from their last five fixtures. Even that one draw result came against a tough defensive opposition of Mumbai City where neither of the sides could break the scoreline deadlock. Goa tormented title-contenders Mohun Bagan Super Giant with a thumping 4-1 victory in their most recent ISL outing. 

Head to Head Record

Ever since the inception of the Indian Super League, the Margao-based outfit has showcased sheer dominance over NorthEast United over the last 10 years. They are currently leading the head-to-head record of this rivalry having 6 wins under their Gaur crest. Meanwhile, the Highlanders have managed to emerge victorious only thrice in 18 encounters as the remaining 9 battles have consummated on equal scorelines. 

The Oranges registered a convincing 2-1 win over their counterparts in the first face-off of the previous season in front of the home crowd. However, the Guwahati chapter turned out to be a thrilling contest which resulted in the final scoreline of 2-2. Interestingly, three penalties were awarded at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium and both goals for the home side scored by Wilmar Jordan Gil came from the spot. 

Team News 

The hosts boast of a clean health bill, a luxury afforded by a few head coaches this season and Juan Pedro Benali will field his best starting XI on Friday.

Captain Brandon made his comeback game a memorable one

The Goan skipper Brandon Fernandes recently made a thumping comeback to the action against the Mariners and will be a mainstay in the Goa lineup for a long time. Marquez will be forced to make one necessary change in the winning combination to replace the injured Victor Rodriguez in the starting XI. 

Goa issued an official club statement informing about the Spaniard’s right leg injury which ruled the Spaniard out of the rest of the season. The head coach also talked about the same in the pre-match press conference.

He said,

“For me, Victor is one of the top players in the ISL and I have known him for a long time as I was his coach 12 years ago for two seasons. The worst thing in any player’s career is injuries. There are lots of injuries all across the world, 7 ACLs in India this season, and something has to change.”

When asked if Goa would look for a replacement, Manolo said,

“It will be difficult because sometimes, to find a player in the middle of the season is not easy. We are in a nice place compared to other teams but it’s still not easy to find a replacement.

Predicted Starting XIs

NorthEast United (4-3-3): Mirshad Michu; Dinesh Singh, Asheer Akhtar, Michel Zabaco, Buanthanglun Samte; Macarton Louis Nickson, Mohammad Ali Bemammer, Phalguni Singh; Nestor Albiach, Romain Philippoteaux, Parthib Gogoi

Goa (4-2-3-1): Arshdeep Singh, Seriton Fernandes, Sandesh Jhinghan, Odei Onaindia, Jay Gupta; Carl McHugh, Raynier Fernandes; Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Noah Sadaoui; Carlos Martinez


At this point in the league stage, even forcing the Gaurs to share points is the most difficult task for any club in the Indian Super League. Especially after recently conquering the VYBK fort, it is being highly speculated that the Orange and Blues will be heading to the new year as invincibles. The Highlanders must capitalize on the home advantage and deliver an outstanding performance in order to aim for crucial points at Guwahati.