Northeast United have confirmed their second play-off appearance since the inaugural season and this time around, they will host ATK Mohun Bagan at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim in the first leg of the Semi-final 2.
Ahead of the game Coaches Khalid Jamil and Alison Kharsyntiew spoke to the media and here’s what they had to say.
The Highlanders will play a vital semi-final against ATK Mohun Bagan and on being asked about the mood in the dressing room Coach Khalid said, “Ya, we are going to play tomorrow with a good team ATK (Mohun Bagan). They are a good side, defensively strong, attacking also strong and we have to be very careful because first match is very important,”
The Semi-finals will be a two legged tie and the away goal rule will not play a part this season. When asked about his opinion on this, coach Khalid said, “Ya, it is an advantage but we are thinking about tomorrow. It is the first game so, we have to be careful, think positively and not take them (ATK Mohun Bagan) lightly at all,”
Coach Khalid Jamil aslo told us about his thoughts going into tomorrow’s game. “As I said, tomorrow we are going to play a good side. They are good individually and as a team also they are good. We need to start positive and not take this match lightly, it is a very serious and difficult game and we have to fight for everything,” he quoted.
Northeast United went through a tough phase midway through the season but despite all the ups and downs, they have made it to the playoffs. When being asked about the energy around the team, Coach Khalid said, “Everybody is fine and in a good mood. They know the seriousness of this match, it is a semi-final. We are going to play two matches so, before that we are thinking about tomorrow’s game. They know they’re very serious about it,”
Khalid Jamil has done wonders with the clubs who are not so financially strong as he knows how to get the best out of them. When being asked about the challenges he has faced, the 43 year old stated, “Talking about this, coming to the semi-final, It all goes to the boys as they have worked very hard and because of them we have reached the semi-final, there’s no doubt.”
“I didn’t have anything, I just told them to play their natural game, just play with confidence. If you do mistakes, no problem go ahead, try again but don’t give up. So this is small information, looking to everything it is about the player, they have done everything and I am very proud to be their coach,” he added.
Khalid Jamil has seen both the world of Indian Football, the I-league and the ISL. On being asked about the difference between both the leagues, the Highlanders’ interim head coach said, “As I said before, in ISL they have quality coaches, players also of good quality. Looking at this season, there was a lot of competition. So it was very tough. With I-League also, there is no difference. But in ISL, the challenge is higher and we enjoy it. The organization, they have done a good job, specially this year. So there is a difference, but in the end football is the same,”
Khalid Jamil became the first ever Indian coach who has a unbeaten run of 9 matches under his belt. On being asked how significant it is for an Indian coach in the present scenario where most of the teams have foreign coaches, he said, “Talking about this, I never think about 9 matches, it is about from the first day we played the first match, the boys worked very hard,”
“And talking about the chances, yes Indian coaches if they get chance they can do well that is definitely said, depending on the management if they want foreigner coaches or Indian coaches but Indian coaches are also capable,” he averred.
Coach was asked about how he and his side are going to approach the game as the semi-final will be a two legged affair. “Just we are going to play how we played our last matches but talking about this game, first game it is very important. So, we have to be patient and we have to dictate the play,” he concluded.
In the last game, Provat Lakra was taken off early in the first half due to some discomfort in his hamstring. Coach Alison Kharsyntiew gave us and update on him and said, “He has been resting at the moment and the medical team has been very hard for his treatment and hopefully he will be okay and get back to the pitch as soon as possible,”
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the ISL is being played behind closed doors and everyone involved stays in a bio-bubble. The 34 year old told us about how they manage to live inside a bio-bubble. “As time goes by, we adapt to the situation. It is hard to be in the bubble, but we took it in a positive way. The players were responsible, taking care of themselves. Sometimes the club, we organized some team activities just for them to engage and for team cohesion. Everyone is doing a good job and taking care of themselves,” and he signed off.