Jamil exalts NorthEast United FC players after semis confirmation

NorthEast United FC qualified for the semi-finals of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 after a 2-0 win over Kerala Blasters FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday. Suhair Vadakkepeedika broke the deadlock for the Highlanders in the 34th minute and Lalengmawia doubled their lead just before the break with a stunning strike from range.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, NorthEast United FC interim head coach Khalid Jamil heaped praise on his players. “The players deserve to be [in the semi-finals]. They worked very hard and because of the players, we have got this result, that’s 100 per cent sure… I don’t have to tell them anything, they are just playing according to some plan that we put [in place] but inside the ground they are there [making things happen], which is the main thing to do,” he said.

Jamil went on to wax lyrical about both his goal-scorers, starting with Lalengmawia’s breath-taking effort. “Very outstanding goal. On Apuia [Lalengmawia], we don’t have to say anything on him, he’s one of the best players that we have in India and I feel very happy to see his goal, he scored a wonderful goal and is a talented player, no doubt,” he said.

On Suhair, Jamil added: “If I had one word for Suhair, it is that he’s a team-man and always works for the team. That’s why he’s always in the starting XI because he works for the team. Defensively he helps, in attack he’s there and in set-pieces also. He’s a very nice and humble man, I know him from earlier, he has that quality.”

The interim NorthEast United FC head coach also provided an update on Federico Gallego’s fitness who came off the bench in the second half. “He wasn’t fit and practised just one day before the match. So, we thought we could use him for maybe for a half or for the last 30 minutes because he wasn’t 100 per cent fit. Now I’m really happy to see him, he’s back so it’s good for us,” Jamil said.

Watch Khalid Jamil's Post-Match Press conference here:

Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters FC interim head coach Ishfaq Ahmed rued his side’s lack of concentration in the build-up to the opening goal. “We conceded immediately after the water break but that has been our story [this season]. Not just water breaks but even when we’ve been playing good football, one [moment of] lack of concentration or not paying attention to small details and we concede. We were dominating in the [first half] and we created two good chances from set-pieces. [Bakary] Kone missed a clear goal and then the water break happened and we switched off for a second and conceded the goal,” he said.

He also was effusive in his assessment of his opposite number on the sidelines. “It was a really good experience [to be interim head coach of Kerala Blasters FC]. We should thank the Hero Indian Super League as well because all of a sudden, the Indian coaches are in the limelight. We can see Khalid bhai, he’s doing a fantastic job. I feel they are on a good run; they will be the one to watch out for and they might cause an upset during the semi-finals,” Ishfaq said.

Watch Ishfaq Ahmed's Post-Match Press conference here:


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