NorthEast United FC head coach Juan Pedro Benali has penned a contract that will run through the next season with an option of extending it by one more season, the Indian Super League (ISL) club announced on Wednesday.

Benali had signed for the Highlanders in the summer and guided them to the semi-final of the Durand Cup 2023, which was his first assignment with the club. NorthEast United FC suffered a defeat in their opening game of the ISL 2023-24 season, but have rallied and recorded some impressive wins since then.

With the 54-year-old at the helm, NorthEast United FC currently sit sixth on the league table with 12 points off 12 games. With half of the season yet to be played, the team has already surpassed its total points from the previous season where they finished bottom of the table.

The Spanish tactician has demonstrated exceptional coaching acumen, steering NorthEast United FC through challenging times with grit and determination. He has shown his ability to mold and develop players besides grooming youngsters and giving them opportunities to shine. 

Benali expressed his gratitude for the continued support that he received from the club.

He said, "I am very happy to extend my contract with NorthEast United FC. The faith shown in me by the club's management motivates me to continue working towards creating a legacy that extends beyond this season. We are committed to developing a squad that not only competes at the highest level but also inspires future generations of footballers. Together, we aim to make NorthEast United FC a force within Indian football."

Owner of NorthEast United FC, John Abraham, expressed his confidence in Benali's abilities.

"Our fans are the heartbeat of NorthEast United, and this contract extension is our commitment to them. Juan’s passion for the game, combined with his ability to unlock the potential of young players, makes him the perfect leader for our team. Together, we are poised to set a benchmark for success in the seasons to come,” stated John.

CEO of NorthEast United FC, Mandar Tamhane, echoed Abraham’s sentiments, and shared, "We are absolutely delighted to extend Juan's contract. Over the last 6-7 months, we have seen his positive impact on the team.  To ensure the long-term growth and consistent development, it is necessary to maintain the continuity and by extending Juan's contract we are taking the next step in that direction."