Jamil: We can’t take ATK Mohun Bagan lightly at all
NorthEast United FC will be hoping for a positive result when they face ATK Mohun Bagan at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim in the first leg of Semi-final 2 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21. Saturday’s clash will mark the Highlanders’ second appearance in a Hero ISL semi-final and you can rest assured that they will leave no stone unturned to feature in their first-ever final. NorthEast United FC are currently on a 10-match unbeaten run and haven’t been defeated during interim head coach Khalid Jamil’s tenure so far.
Speaking to the media ahead of the first leg against ATK Mohun Bagan, Jamil made it clear that he and his players are under no illusions regarding the challenge that awaits them. “We are going to play against a good ATK Mohun Bagan team. They are a good side that’s strong defensively and in attack. We have to be very careful because the first leg is very important… so we must be careful and think positively. We cannot take them lightly at all,” he said.
While further assessing ATK Mohun Bagan, Jamil added: “ATK Mohun Bagan is a good team. They have good coaches and good players. They have quality players and it will be the toughest game in the league [yet for them]. So, we have to prepare and be strong mentally. During the game we have to be focused for 90 minutes.”
When asked about his team’s approach to the match, Jamil said: “We will continue to play how we have been playing but talking about the first leg, it’s very important. So, we have to be patient, dictate the game and be very careful.”
He also discussed the mood in the Highlanders’ camp. “Everyone is in a good mood and serious about the semi-final. We are going to play two matches. Before that we are thinking about tomorrow’s game. My players are very serious about it,” Jamil said.
The 43-year-old then lauded the effort put in by his players during their run to the semis. “First of all, the credit for reaching the semi-finals must go to the boys. All of them have worked very hard and there’s no doubt that we’ve reached the semi-finals because of them. I just asked them to play their natural game and to play with confidence. If you make a mistake, no problem. Try again but don’t give up. So, it’s just small bits of information [that I pass on to them]. It’s the players that have done everything and I’m very proud to be their coach,” he said.
He also weighed in with his thoughts on Indian coaches managing in the Hero ISL but wasn’t prepared to get carried away with talk surrounding his nine-match unbeaten run as interim head coach of the Highlanders. “I’m talking about this match [the semi-final first leg]. I’m not thinking about my nine-match unbeaten run with the team. From the first match itself, the boys have worked very hard and talking about the chance [to coach], yes Indian coaches, if they get a chance, they can do well. It depends on the management and whether they want foreign or Indian coaches. But Indian coaches are also capable and we also have good foreign coaches,” Jamil said.