For many, NorthEast United are the underdogs heading into the knockout stages of the ISL. And the main reason behind it is that United function best as a team, and do not rely as heavily on individual brilliance as the other teams do.
But that’s not to say that relying on individual brilliance is a bad thing, but it goes to show that NorthEast play the sport as a well functioning unit, making the best of each aspect of the individual players on the pitch to finish third in the league, ahead of fellow knockout stage participants Goa.
NorthEast go up against ATK Mohun Bagan in the semi-finals and aren’t being fancied to make it to the finals ahead of the newly rebranded Kolkata team. The season has been a rewarding one, but this just seems to be the end of the road for them. However, nothing is predictable in football, as history has shown time and time again.
But the task at hand for them is one that can only be overcome with sheer perseverance, and luck, of course. While NorthEast lost the first time they faced ATK Mohun Bagan this season, right after the turn of the year, they did manage to come out on top the second time around, winning the return leg 2-1.
That will give them some confidence to put on a great show against ATK and fight until the end of the campaign. However, the chances of them winning the title are very low indeed.