NorthEast United FC head coach Marco Balbul is confident of his players giving a solid fight, and wants them to win for the supporters, as his side face Bengaluru FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season opener at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Saturday.

Balbul is determined to take his new club to a higher ceiling with a footballing project that puts young players at the helm - who he hails as the future of the club.

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The Israeli was also aware of the threat possessed by Bengaluru FC, the Blues coming off a title win in the Durand Cup, but the NEUFC head coach backed his players to head on to the pitch and give their best to win their opening game of the new season.

The 55-year-old along with new signing Michael Jakobsen addressed the media in a pre-match press conference ahead of the Bengaluru FC match.

Here are the excerpts from Balbul’s press conference:

What are your expectations from the upcoming game against Bengaluru FC?

We know that it is a tough game against Bengaluru FC who are a strong team and have a good balance - in defence, and in attack. However, we have also come prepared; we have built a new, young team with experienced foreign players that will help us a lot. The players have shown good motivation, and good preparation for this game, and we will give our best to win this game.

Coming into the new season, Bengaluru FC have won the Durand Cup. Does that play into your thought process going into the game and does it impact as to how you approach the game?

They deserved to win the Durand Cup, they played good attacking football with good strikers. But we have a big challenge as we face a good team, but we come with the intention to win every game irrespective of the opponent we’re playing. We are here to play our style, do our best for the fans, who are back in the stadiums after a long period, make them happy and win this game for them.

What was the thought process behind building a youthful squad for the Hero ISL 2022-23 season?

We want to build this club for the future, it’s not just about this season, we need to make a process to implement new players in this team. They are 14 new players we bring to this team, to bring them in the pre-season, to acclimatise and adapt them to Indian conditions.

Our vision for the future is to build a really good structure, a good philosophy of football where these young players will be the future of this club for a long time and not just come and go. The bottomline is to play good football for our fans, which is the most important thing for us.

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You have a team with several new foreign players, one of the most number of changes by any team when it comes to foreign personnel. Do you think that gives you an advantage - the fact that the other teams might not know how some of those players play?

We look at ourselves, we don’t look at what others do. We must build a new team, that’s what we intend to do and I think we did a good job until now, with the recruitment, the facilities for the players, and the environment at the club. We just need to bring all of this onto the pitch.

Here are the excerpts from Jakobsen’s press conference:

How have you been adjusting to the Indian conditions and has it been a bit of a pull on your body?

Honestly, it has been quite hard. The first two weeks were very tough, the humidity in Guwahati was a bit too much, and it was quite warm at the same time. You need to adapt to these conditions anyway.