NorthEast United, under Portugese manager Nelo Vingada, are level on points with Chennaiyin but ahead on goal difference.
Chennai: Defending champions Chennaiyin FC are on the edge of the precipice in ISL-3. A defeat at the hands of NorthEast United here on Saturday will end their semi-final chances for all practical purposes. In fact Chennaiyin’s play-off fate isn’t in their hands: they must win their remaining two league fixtures and hope for favourable results elsewhere to progress.
Nothing illustrates the transience of success more vividly than the plight of last season’s top teams. If Chennaiyin are languishing seventh on the table, FC Goa, runners-up in 2015, are bringing up the rear in the eight-team league. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Chennai club need a miracle to stay alive in the business end.
Chennaiyin coach Marco Materazzi who hasn’t been answering questions off the field here seems to have no answers as well to the volley of questions opposition coaches are lobbing at him on the field. After five draws and four losses, the Italian will be desperate to give the home fans something to cheer about with the season nearing its finale.
NorthEast United, under Portugese manager Nelo Vingada, are level on points with Chennaiyin but ahead on goal difference. They have a match in hand to boot.
The Highlanders will come hard at Chennaiyin, whose defence has been wobbly from start, because three points on Saturday would brighten their play-off chances.
The visitors have a fantastic record against Chennaiyin, having lost only once in five meetings.
Unbeaten at the Nehru Stadium here, NorthEast will approach the match with their tails up after a last-gasp winner against FC Pune City in the previous round.
Chennaiyin, on the other hand, have the onus of rallying from a dispiriting defeat at the hands of Mumbai.