NorthEast United FC head coach Marco Balbul expressed that his players have been lacking quality in the final third, as his side went down fighting against Odisha FC in matchweek 9 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneswar, on Friday. 

Nandhakumar Sekar opened the scoring for the hosts while Rochharzela equalized for NorthEast United FC in the second half, only for Jerry Mawihmingthanga to put the game to bed in the 78th minute, securing the three points for his side. With this loss, the Highlanders remained on the bottom of the points table as they faced their eighth defeat of the season.

Balbul reiterated that the players are showing hunger with the maximum effort in every duel and battle but it’s not enough.

Marco Balbul also spoke about how the mistakes at the back cost the Highlanders the game as he addressed the media in the official post-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts of Balbul’s press conference:

The team is bottom on the points table and is yet to open its account. What do you think is going wrong?

Like today, Odisha FC didn’t create many chances in the first half, but one mistake, our centre-back goes out and we concede the goal. Then, we equalized, and then another mistake in the defense. (We are) losing patience, in attack, we are not creating enough, not efficent enough. We come to the attacking third and then we have zero shots, it’s poor, it’s not enough in the quality. We come to attacking third and our performance and scoring are poor. Four goals in eight games and we’re averaging 2.5 goals per match is too poor.

How difficult it is to motivate the players when the team keeps on losing matches?

You saw them today. They fight, they run, and in every battle and duel, they try to do their best but in football, it’s not enough. We need to increase the quality of the team, so we need to sign three to four players in the winter transfer window. We have to sign players in attack and defense to be a better team. This is the only solution we have. I cannot compare the effort, motivation, and attitude of the players. You saw tonight, they compete against a very strong Odisha FC team, I really appreciate what they do but it’s not enough.

What was the atmosphere and the discussions in the dugout when the team scored the equalizer?

When we equalized, we wanted to win. We were thinking about an attacking change to win the game because we were controlling things better and we were able to find spaces from the wings. The final pass was not good, not accurate and unfortunately, we conceded the goal, lost concentration in the defense and we suffered. Me, my staff, the players, and the club, everyone suffered from this poor performance.