Guwahati: NorthEast United FC are preparing for the first of their two must-win games at home, against Delhi Dynamos, which can take them to the play-offs of the Hero Indian Super League football, here tomorrow.
NorthEast United FC finished at the bottom of the ISL table last year and lost three matches in a row at the start of this year's tournament. But Cesar Farias has sparked a remarkable turnaround for NorthEast United and they are now two victories away from qualification.
The first of the two 'finals' is against Delhi Dynamos and the coach is relishing the prospect of taking a big step towards the play-offs.
"I don't know the mathematics. I've come here for the football," Farias said during the pre-match media briefing when asked about the qualification points scenario.
"This is a great chance for us, beautiful opportunity.
First we have to focus on Delhi. There are two finals and this is the most important one. We are playing two direct opponents who are fighting for qualification. Every point will be very important," said Farias.
NorthEast United, placed fourth with 17 points from 12 matches, did well to take a point from FC Goa and Delhi Dynamos coach Roberto Carlos noticed just how dangerous the team can be.
"NorthEast is a very good team with a good coach and great players. It's a team with impressive speed and clever players. This will be a good game," said Carlos.
Delhi Dynamos had looked like getting the better of NorthEast United in their home match until marquee player Simao Sabrosa rose from the bench to score a stunning free-kick and tie the match. Carlos has not forgotten that late equalizer.
"If Simao had not scored that brilliant goal, I would have chilled out here," said Carlos, whose team is placed third on the table with 18 points from 11 matches. They need another five points to be assured of qualification.
A talking point for Delhi Dynamos all through the league has been the lack of goals. Delhi have scored only 11 goals in 11 matches, the least by any team, but Carlos was not complaining.
"Mumbai (City) and Kerala (Blasters) scored more than us but they are out. Most of the times, the numbers really do not explain everything. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but since the ISL started, Delhi is among the teams in the first four. This is what makes me happy," said Carlos.
Delhi Dynamos still have to play Kerala Blasters (December 3) and FC Goa (December 6) at home in their remaining two matches, while NorthEast United will finish their league engagements with a home clash against FC Pune City on December 2.