NorthEast United FC head coach Vincenzo Annese stated that he’s trying his best to improve his team while also preparing them for a difficult season ahead as his side gears up for action against Hyderabad FC in Matchweek 13 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), at the G.M.C Balayogi Athletic Stadium, in Hyderabad, on Thursday.

NorthEast United FC got of the mark this season after beating ATK Mohun Bagan in their previous fixture, which was the first win of the season. Having taken over the reigns from former head coach Marco Balbul, Annese has not only helped his side register their first points on the board, but has adopted a new approach and style at his new club. The NEUFC head coach revealed his ambitions with the club and has put his faith in his players to change their situation.

“Honestly, I am never happy with myself. No, because I don’t want to show fake modesty. I need to improve and also I need to read better some situations during the game. I need to improve the guys at a better level. I want a lot from my guys. So, it will be a difficult season and I love the difficult challenge, and I'm here for this,” Annese stated in the official pre-match press conference ahead of the Hyderabad FC game.

“I'm ready to get all the responsibility to myself and as I said, I just want to improve myself. I'm here in the Hero ISL to improve myself and the team. I believe in these guys so much and step-by-step we can be doing some important stuff in this league,” he mentioned.

Having clinched their first points of the season, Annese revealed the win against ATK Mohun Bagan has created a positive environment and he encouraged his players to keep the momentum going.

“We are motivated because this win has created emotions, created (a) positive mindset for the guys, created hope for the future, and we need to continue to work hard and try to reach this level,” Annese said.

Hyderabad FC beat NorthEast United FC in dominant fashion during the reverse fixture in Guwahati, with Bartholomew Ogbeche, Halicharan Narzary and Borja Herrera on target. Annese urged his players to be vigilant in order to beat the defending Hero ISL champions.

“We faced Hyderabad FC at home and they were dangerous, and we know this, but we need to really be clinical in each situation that we're facing in this game,” he said.

While they clinched a win in their last match, Annese’s men also registered their first clean sheet of the season after a solid defensive display against the Mariners. Annese called for his players to learn and improve from that performance to be able to make a difference in their game against Hyderabad FC.

“I can say that the guys need to be organised in some moments, in the offensive phase and be ready to read some situations whenever they happen during the game. I think we are in a good spirit, good trend, and we can improve, as I say, in each day, that can make the difference in 90 minutes,” he said.

The 38-year-old also appreciated Hyderabad FC, their head coach Manolo Marquez, and the style of play, stating that the defending champions are capable of lifting the title. However, Annese expressed that his team to maintain the focus on themselves and not the opponent.

“It is a good team with a good coach, a Spaniard coach who has, I think, four years already in the league. He’s one of the best coaches in one of the best teams in the Hero ISL. They have quality players, fast players, powerful (team that plays) attacking football, aggression, pressing, (they have) everything for winning the title,” he said.

“But as I said, we need to focus on ourselves, focus on our opponent when we face them, we can play some action that can be very dangerous for Hyderabad FC,” he continued.

On being questioned about the age group of the team, Annese responded by saying that it doesn’t affect whether the team consists more of young or senior players, with his focus firmly on improving the team.

“Age doesn’t have any impact on me. I think they are all positive, even the senior players because many times you have, maybe, some experienced senior players like 30-31 years old, but maybe you don't learn the reality stuff that maybe one coach can give you,” he expressed.