North East United FC coach Eelco Schattorie has hinted at Bartholomew Ogbeche and Rowllin Borges missing out the Bengaluru leg of the first semi-final because of injuries. In the Guwahati leg, the home team NorthEast United got the better of the Sunil Chhetri-led side by a score of 2-1.
It was a late penalty by Juan Mascia in injury time that sealed the game for NorthEast United in front of their home crowd at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. Schattorie’s boys will have an upper edge against a strong Bengaluru side when they will meet again in the next leg but they will have to keep the away goal in mind in Bengaluru. However, the NEUFC coach looked a bit negative in his words during the press conference as he gave updates about the injuries to Ogbeche and Borges.
"(Ogbeche’s injury is) serious. Before the match, Rowllin Borges was injured yesterday in the training. During the set-piece training, he pulled a hamstring. He recovered half, so he had to start the game with an injury. And then, Bartholomew Ogbeche (got injured) during a sprint. So, at the end of the first half, we lost two players. That’s a big blow. I don’t think they will be fit for the next game," Schattorie said during the post-match press conference.
The Highlanders dominated the first half of the game on Thursday with Redeem Tlang scoring the first goal to give them a lead in the 20th minute. However, the visitors
"Having said that, in the first half, we completely outplayed Bengaluru. They did not create one chance. They didn’t have any answer to our tactics. In the second half, losing Borges in the midfield was a big problem. I had to bring in Nikhil Kadam who is physically not as strong as Borges in dealing with pressure," the NEUFC coach explained.
“In the second half, we didn’t play football anymore but that is also understandable. But I’m very happy with the first half. I think it’s one of the better halves this season especially to completely shut off Bengaluru. Overall, I think we deserved the result. But the next game is going to be a big challenge.”
NEUFC had great support from the crowd in Guwahati and Bengaluru coach Carles Cuadrat identified this to be a plus point for the Highlanders. Sunil Chhetri-led Bengaluru, however, did well in the second half to rectify the mistakes of the first half after going down 0-1 early in the match.
"Football is like this. Sometimes you get more possession, sometimes less. Sometimes we win more second-balls, sometimes less. They were playing at home. So, they were giving extra in front of their supporters, trying to get the game for them," said Cuadrat.
"But as you saw in the second half, it was completely different. We made a clever game trying to work from one side to the other, trying to get the chances to score. So, I think it was a nice game to watch with a lot of exciting things happening. To be calm with the possession of the ball. We were misplacing the last pass. We have the quality to make that kind of pass. So, we had to wait. If you see our goal, Sunil Chhetri had the temperament, had the time to prepare and passed the ball for Xisco Hernandez to score. So, that kind of final pass was something we had been missing in the first half.”
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