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Hero ISL: East Bengal FC Vs NorthEast United FC

East Bengal FC are, mathematically, still in the hunt for a playoffs spot this season and will be looking to establish parity with Chennaiyin FC on the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) table as they host NorthEast United FC to the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium on Wednesday. Three points for the Torch Bearers will bring them level on points with the Marina Machans before facing them this Sunday. The Highlanders, meanwhile, are still searching for their first points away from home this season.

While East Bengal FC are, theoretically, still in the race, head coach Stephen Constantine has indicated in recent weeks that the rest of the season will be part of a larger project to vastly improve ahead of the next one.

This past Friday, they made a big step in that direction when they shocked Kerala Blasters 1-0 to earn their fifth win of the season. The club’s mainstay Cleiton Silva scored his tenth goal of the season and is part of a heated race for the golden boot.

Constantine will be without Mobashir Rahman in this game after the midfielder was sent off in the closing stages of the last game but will be pleased to continue with new signing Jake Jervis alongside Silva up front.

“I don’t judge teams on paper; I judge them on the field. They have improved in recent weeks and brought in a few new players,” said Constantine. “I don’t judge a team by where they are in the table. All games in ISL are difficult games. We have to be completely focused and implement last week’s formula. If we do that we will get the three points,” he added.

NorthEast United FC are rooted to the bottom of the table and find themselves eight points behind Jamshedpur FC. A loss against East Bengal FC will drive the final nail to the coffin and confirm an eleventh-place finish this season.

This past weekend, the Highlanders failed to find the back of the net for a third consecutive game in the Hero ISL. In addition to that, Vincenzo Annese’s men have conceded eight goals in those three games. All four points that NorthEast United FC have in their kitty have been earned at home.

Skipper Wilmar Jordan will still be unavailable for this encounter as he serves his suspension. Annese could stick to the Parthib Gogoi-Kule Mbombo partnership up front or could bring in Rochharzela for this encounter.

“We had two days to prepare for this game. In the previous game, we were better in the second half and were looking for a draw. It was painful to see us not scoring,” said Annese. “Now we face an East Bengal side which was superb against Kerala Blasters in the last game. They are playing at home and got an additional day’s rest, so they will be in good form. As every other game in the ISL, it will be a difficult one,” he added.

In the reverse fixture earlier this season, East Bengal FC nabbed their first ever Hero ISL win over NorthEast United FC in five attempts. The Highlanders have been victorious on three occasions.