The long wait is finally over as the third edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) commences in Guwahati following a Bollywood filled opening ceremony extravaganza.
The Highlanders have never qualified for the semi-finals in the past two seasons and will be itching for a step forward under new coach Nelo Vingada – nicknamed ‘The Professor’.
New marquee player Didier Zokora had a niggle during the pre-season in Dubai but since then has regained his fitness and is fit to start. Nicolas Velez, the star name on the roster was used mostly as an impact substitute last season but is tipped to be the first name on the sheet this term.
The biggest decision Vingada may have to take is for the place in between the sticks. Rehenesh T.P. who has been brilliant for the franchise in the past might have to play second fiddle to Indian veteran Subrata Paul.
Seityasen Singh hasn’t trained in the last couple of days and striker Sasha Aneff has been ruled out for atleast a month in lieu of a broken rib. Katsumi Yusa will fill into the right side in a 4-2-2-2 formation. Halicharan Narzary gets the nod ahead of Sumeet Passi and Lallianzuala Chhangte or even Jerry Mawihmingthanga for the left winger role.
Kerala Blasters have been training in Guwahati for the last five days and will be used to the conditions in the Brahmaputra valley.
Cedric Hengbart returns to his old club where he was captain for NorthEast United for a better part of last season. He will be partnered by marquee Aaron Hughes, fresh off a tryst in the Euro 2016. Indian centre-half Sandesh Jhingan will be utilised in a full back role.
Mehtab Hossain will used as the pivot in midfield. Chadian Azrack Mahamat is ruled out for the first week and Josue Currias will reprise his role in midfield along with teengaer Vinit Rai who will play infront of his hometown crowd, but in different colours. Antonio German, who incidentally scored a screamer in the corresponding fixture last season, is tipped to start after being declared fit. Semboi Haokip misses out over Mohammed Rafi and Haitians Duckens Nazon and Kevin Belfort will fight it out for a single spot in attack.
Expect nothing less than fireworks as the world’s fourth most watched league begins it’s third sojourn. Kick-off is at 7 pm IST, following the gala opening ceremmony at 6.15 pm IST.
Source: Kangla Online