Khalid Jamil has been named the new head coach of NorthEast United FC ahead of the 2021-22 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL).

This is the first instance in the country’s premier football league that an Indian has been handed the top coaching position on a permanent basis.

The last season of the Hero ISL, to all intents and purposes, was Jamil’s breakthrough season. After a spate of unsatisfactory results, NorthEast United FC decided to part ways with then head coach Gerard Nus in January and Jamil (then assistant coach) was handed the reins on an interim basis.

At that time, there wasn’t much expectation from Jamil but against all odds, the 44-year-old marshalled his troops with great skills, and the result was that the Highlanders qualified for the Hero ISL semi-finals for the second time in their history.

Jamil oversaw NorthEast United FC’s nine-match unbeaten run with morale-boosting victories over eventual champions Mumbai City FC and finalists ATK Mohun Bagan before going down to the Mariners in the two-legged semi-finals.

Born in Kuwait to Indian parents, Jamil was a midfielder in his playing days and represented clubs like Mahindra United, Air India and Mumbai FC. He also played quite a few matches for the Indian national team. He joined NorthEast United FC as an assistant coach ahead of the 2019-20 season. It was Jamil under whom Aizawl FC lifted the Hero I-League in 2017.

Since their semi-final defeat in March early this year, the Highlanders have signed many new names. So far as many as 10 new arrivals have come to pass at the club. These are Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha, Laldanmawia Ralte, Sehnaj Singh, Tondonba Singh, Joe Zoherliana, Hernan Santana, William Lalnunfela, Mohamed Irshad, Jestin George and Mathias Coureur.

The Highlanders kick off their 2021-22 Hero ISL campaign on November 20 against 2018-19 champions Bengaluru FC at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa.