Punjab vs NorthEast United: Preview and Prediction

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NorthEast United has had a good start to their season

In the third match of Matchday 3 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League season, Punjab will take on NorthEast United at Punjab’s temporary home – the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Friday.

Although the points table might point out something very different, indicating that Punjab has so far been a mess, they can be fairly satisfied with their performance. The newly promoted team did lose both of their first two matches, but they fought bravely on both occasions and will feel that it is only a matter of time before they open their points tally. With no points to their name, Punjab are placed 11th in the points table.

NorthEast United had a horrific last season, but it seems they have gone through a complete overhaul over the summer and are now ready to take on any given opponent. With 3 points in 2 games, the Highlanders are placed 6th in the standings.

What have they done so far?

Punjab was thrown to the lions right at the beginning, as in their very first match in ISL, they were asked to play against the most intimidating team in the league, Mohun Bagan Super Giant. However, they fought toe-to-toe with the Mariners, although ultimately going down in a 1-3 defeat. After conceding two first-half goals, Luka Majcen’s strike gave them a glimmer of hope, but a Manvir Singh goal sealed all three points for the Mariners.

Punjab’s second game was against another title contender in Goa, where they suffered a 0-1 defeat. Here again, Staikos Vergetis’ boys were brave in the fight, having 48% ball possession as compared to Goa’s 52%.

Carlos Martinez struck early for Goa in the 17th minute of the match, but Punjab did have a few opportunities to strike back, which they could not capitalize upon. In this match, Vergetis will be hoping his strikers will be more effective in front of the goal.

Like Punjab, NorthEast United also had a tough start to their season, as in their first match they were up against the shield-winning team from last season, Mumbai City. A Jorge Pereyra Diaz goal meant the Highlanders were trailing in the match early on, but Parthib Gogoi restored parity soon. Unfortunately for them, Diaz struck again to seal a win for Mumbai City.

However, Juan Pedro Benali’s boys were absolutely unstoppable in the last game against Chennaiyin, where they got a 3-0 victory. Parthib, who has been an emerging star this season, scored the first goal of the game, before another emerging talent, Phalguni Singh doubled the Highlanders’ lead. To complete the rout, Asheer Akhtar scored a long-ranger screamer in additional time.

Head to Head Record

This will be a historic tie, as NorthEast United and Punjab will be crossing paths for the first time ever. The two teams have never been in the same league before, and they did not meet in any of the cup competitions either.

Team News

To strengthen the defense, Staikos Vergetis could give Dimitrios Chatziisaias a start

After two consecutive defeats, where they ended up conceding four goals, it will make sense for Vergetis to field a slightly defensive line-up in this game. Melroy Assisi was found out of his depth in both games so far and could be replaced by the experienced Greek defender, Dimitrios Chatziisaias. 

But to keep the overseas count to four, Vergetis might then have to drop Juan Mera for an Indian striker in Ranjeet Singh Pandre.

As for changes in the other areas of the pitch, winger Krishnanandha Khundongbam did not utilize the chance he was provided in the last game, as he could barely trouble any of Goa’s defenders. Hence, he could be replaced by the experienced Prasanth Karuthadathkuni. Brandon Vanlalremdika suffered an injury in the last game and had to be substituted. If he is deemed unfit to play in this match, Kingslee Fernandes could be seen in midfield for Punjab.

On the other hand, there is no pressing reason for Benali to alter his team, considering they were outstanding in the 3-0 victory over Chennaiyin. Although, there is room for improvement in the Highlanders’ team, which might cause a few changes. In defense, Soraisham Dinesh Singh did not look too confident against Farukh Choudhary on the right flank and was even yellow-carded. In this match, he might have to make way for Gaurav Bora.

While we can expect NorthEast United’s midfield line-up to remain the same, there can be a change in attack as well. At a time when Parthib was launching one attack after another through the left flank, Manvir Singh was barely to be seen on the right flank. Hence, Benali could opt for all-Gogoi flank attack in this match by fielding Parthib’s brother, Pragyan Gogoi on the right wing.

Predicted Starting XIs

Punjab (4-4-2): Kiran Chemjong; Khaimin Lungdim, Dimitrios Chatziisaias, Nikhil Prabhu, Mohammed Salah; Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Ashish Pradhan, Kingslee Fernandes, Madih Talal; Ranjeet Singh Pandre, Luka Majcen.

NorthEast United (4-2-3-1): Mirshad Michu; Gaurav Bora, Asheer Akhtar, Michel Zabaco, Tondonba Singh; Mohamed Ali Bamammer, Romain Philippoteaux; Pragyan Gogoi, Phalguni Singh, Parthib Gogoi; Nestor Albiach.


Punjab might be trying all they can with their limited resources, but considering the superb form NorthEast United is in, it will be a difficult task for Vergetis’ boys to put up with the Highlanders who could run away with three points from the capital city.