NorthEast United vs Indian Army: Preview and Prediction
After topping Group F, Indian Army will face ISL outfit NorthEast United in the first quarter-final of the 2023 Durand Cup at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati. The match will be taking place on Thursday. Both sides are unbeaten in the tournament and their clash will be a joy to witness for football fans.
NorthEast United started their campaign in the best way possible as they recorded a comfortable 4-0 win in the North East derby over Shillong Lajong at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. The deadlock was broken by Parthib Gogoi (26th minute) and the Highlanders’ lead was later doubled by Romain Philippoteaux with a penalty kick. Moreover, Gagoi also scored two more goals to complete his first hat trick for the Highlanders.
In the second match, the Highlanders locked horns against ISL rivals, Goa. Manvir Singh opened the scoreline for NorthEast United in the 24th minute, however, Rowlin Borges later equalized in the first half. In the second half, Singh scored his second to give his side the lead again, but Noah Sadaoui’s strike ended the match on level (2-2).
In the last group stage match, the Highlanders took on Downtown Heroes. Parvaj Bhuiya steered Downtown Heroes toward an early lead against NorthEast United. They managed to maintain the lead until the first-half whistle. In the second half, NorthEast United flipped the match upside down with three goals, making the score 3-1. The Highlanders ended their group stage campaign in the second spot behind Goa.
On the other side, Indian Army commenced their Durand Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Indian Super Cup champions, Odisha. Liton Shil, who was later sent off in the fixture, scored the only goal (42nd minute) of the fixture, which eventually turned out to be enough for the armed forces in their first match.
In the next match, they squared off against Bodoland. The match started well as both teams displayed great skills and Indian Army took the lead in just the 6th minute with Samir Marmu’s goal. The Assamese side was desperate for a goal as they wanted to secure a spot in the knockout stages, while the Indian Army was defending brilliantly.
Thus, the pressure of the intense fixture finally got released when Suresh Meitei scored the second goal for the Armed forces in injury time. However, tensions arose between the two sides as after Joe Aidoo’s late goal (2-1), Indian Army’s skipper, Bhabindra Malla Thakuri was sent off.
The last group-stage fixture of the Indian Army was against Rajasthan United at the SAI stadium. Both sides came close to scoring on a few occasions during the match but they eventually failed to break the deadlock and the fixture ended as a goalless draw. Indian Army surprisingly topped Group F leaving behind the likes of Odisha, Bodoland, and Rajasthan United.
The two sides have only faced each other once in their history. In the last edition of the Durand Cup, NorthEast United and Indian Army squared off against each other on matchday 6. After getting humbled 0-6 by Odisha, the Highlanders suffered a throbbing 3-1 loss at the hands of the Armed Forces. Hence, they’ll be looking forward to securing their first win against the Indian Army this year as a bigger prize will be on the line.
Northeast United has recently completed the signing of Palestinian defender Yaser Hamed. With his signing, the Highlanders have completed their foreign players signing quota for the upcoming 2023-24 season. Before Hamed, they also signed 20-year-old goalkeeper, Dipesh Chauhan, who got into the limelight after his great performance in the Next Gen Cup 2022.
Consequently, Juan Pedro Benali’s side hasn’t reported any injuries or suspensions. As a result, they’ll be facing the Indian Army in the first quarter-final of the Durand Cup at full strength. The Highlanders rely heavily on their young players as a result, Manvir Singh and Pratibh Gogai will be the players to watch out for.
On the other side, two players from the Indian Army were sent off in the earlier fixtures. However, they will be positively back for the quarter-final fixture against NorthEast United. Moreover, their right-back, Suresh Meitei, who scored against Bodoland can reportedly miss the match due to transfer reasons.
NorthEast United: Mirshad Koottappunna, Michel Zabaco, Gaurav Bora ©, Tondonba Singh, Dinesh Singh, Phalguni Singh, Pragyan Gogoi, Manvir Singh, Rochharzela, Parthib Gogoi, Romain Philippoteaux
Indian Army: Sayad Bin Abdul Kadir, Bhabindra Malla Thakuri ©, Zothanpuia, P Christopher Kamei, Shafeel PP, Premkumar SK, Deepak Singh, Rahul Ramakrishnan, Samir Murmu, Lethaolen Khongsai, Alwin E
Both Indian Army NorthEast United have provided decent performances in their group stage fixtures. However, things are expected to be different in the quarter-final because a loss will knock a team out of the tournament. Despite reliable and consistent displays from the Armed forces, the Highlanders are more likely to ace the challenge. However, the contest will be interesting and intense.