Jamil does the unthinkable but doesn’t take the credit for NorthEast United FC’s success

Khalid Jamil’s success with NorthEast United FC is nothing short of extraordinary and reflects how far the local coaches have come since the advent of the league. After a spate of unsatisfactory results, NorthEast United FC decided to part ways with head coach Gerard Nus in January and Jamil (then assistant coach) was handed the reins on an interim basis.

It was indeed a puzzling matter for the Highlanders’ fans as to how the former India footballer will inspire a bunch of players low on confidence, and most importantly whether he will be able to command their respect. One and a half months on, Jamil is soaring high in the sky having overseen the Highlanders’ nine-match unbeaten run with morale-boosting victories over Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan during this period -- two of the best teams this season – and a place in the semi-finals.   

Ahead of the semi-finals where the Highlanders will be up against the Mariners after finishing third in the standings, Jamil revealed as to what he said to his players after taking over the reins. “I told them to concentrate, play their natural game with full confidence… if mistake happens, no problem. We got the results because the players worked very hard and fulfilled their responsibilities. From Subhasish Roy in goal to VP Suhair in the forward line, each one performed... those in the first team, those taking the place of injured players and those recovering from injury to win back places in the squad,” the 43-year-old said in an interview with sportstar.thehindu.com.

NorthEast United FC’s predicament could not have been greater after Nus’ departure. Talking about his approach at the start of his new role, Jamil said: “The view of the club management and the quality of players available determines the approach a new coach can adopt. The foreigners coming here to play do their part, that's no problems for the coach. They are professional and committed to the team goal. Staying inside a bubble in Goa resulted in our players mixing with each other more frequently and the understanding got better. We trained together, got involved in other games together and it showed on the ground.”

When asked if his success with the Highlanders will change the outlook towards Indian coaches, Jamil said: “Indian coaches getting a chance depends on their [club management's] wish and what they expect from the coach. In my case, coaching NorthEast United FC is a pleasure. I am happy to have got the chance [to prove my worth]. The players also did their part, I give full credit to my players for the team’s success.”

Last season, Clifford Miranda took charge of FC Goa on an interim basis after Sergio Lobera left the club and led the Gaurs to the League Winners Shield – although the Gaurs were leading the table at the time of the Spaniard’s departure. When asked if the time had come for the clubs to explore proven Indian coaches, Jamil, who has coached a number of local teams in the past, replied in the affirmative: “Sure, why not? Indian coaches are as capable [as others]. If any coach is given the confidence by the management, results can happen because then it is up to the person to deliver,” he said.

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