Derrick Pereira's teams are defensively strong; it'll be a tough game against FC Goa: NorthEast United FC’s Khalid Jamil

NorthEast United FC head coach Khalid Jamil needs his team to be vigilant of the danger FC Goa possesses and urged them to follow their gameplan, as his side takes on the Gaurs in matchday 60 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season on Friday at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa.

The 44-year-old admitted that his team is conceding goals in heaps and stated that he’s working on a plan to improve the defensive structure of the side while also brushing up the attacking front.

Jamil will face his former opponent Derrick Pereira, current head coach of FC Goa, as the two shared the field during their National Football League and I-League days, several years ago.

Ahead of his side’s clash against FC Goa, the NorthEast United FC head coach addressed the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

FC Goa have changed a lot in terms of how they play since the last time you played them, and now they have a new head coach in Derrick Pereira. How do you see them going into Friday’s game?

They have changed quite a lot because a new coach has come. Derrick sir is doing a good job. They played well in their last match, and talking about the team, they played well too, they’re playing with a new formation.

The last game, they trained only for one day and they won; they have quality players, so we have to be alert and it’s not going to be like the last time we played against them. Definitely, it’s a different game, we are playing in their ground, we have to be careful, and we have to go according to our plan.

Friday’s game is one Indian coach against another Indian coach. So, how do you look at the match on Friday?

First of all, I never think about that. Talking about Derrick sir, he’s one of the best Indian coaches, he’s the most experienced coach, and under him, I’ve learnt many things, I’m still looking forward to meeting him. It will be a tough game because Derrick sir is very strong defensively and he motivates the players the way he wants.

Him and I also discuss about the Goa team. So, we never think it is with the Indian coach or the foreign coach, we are facing the Goa team, we played with them, and now, they’re improving. They have a new energy, and for us, we must think about our own game.

How do you see the second half coming up for NorthEast United FC?

Coming to the second leg, we need a good start. For that, I want to say that our technical director Ohad [Efrat], who is from Israel, was also with us last year. I have done good because of him, last year we got good results because of him. He’s young, experienced and we share a good working experience.

NorthEast United FC have conceded nine goals in the last three matches, and we have seen the team score regularly. So how do you think the team should improve defensively?

Yes, we have to improve defensively. We are conceding goals, but in football these situations happen. Now, we have Ohad in those situations, who’ll help us defensively. So, this time we are ready to not concede any goals, to score and finish the game as early as possible, and all the players know their roles, they are mature. We work defensively this time and hope we don’t concede goals on Friday.    

Your team has conceded 20 goals already this season. So, what do you feel has been the biggest issue in defense this season?

Talking about conceding goals, you cannot just blame the defense because midfield is also involved and if you talk about modern football then even the striker must work hard, so, it is not a specific mistake only from the defense, there are individual mistakes, goalkeeper mistakes, we cannot blame anybody, but we are trying to bounce back.

We’ve worked this week as we had enough time, we worked defensively this time. Every match we had some or the other changes. I think the best match we’ve played was the last match, everybody played well, and talking about the next game we are working very hard.

Deshorn Brown has been in fine form so far after his injury. How important a role does he play for NorthEast United FC and also for your playing style?

Yes, Brown, I don’t have to say anything about him. He’s one of the best players in the ISL and he’s one of the main players we have. I’m immensely proud to be his coach and he’s an important player. For a player like him to be available is a plus point for us.

I’ve never seen him complaining, he listens to my instructions, he obeys the game. Even though he has played fewer matches, he has been highly effective for us. He guides the team and is a skilful player.        

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