NorthEast United FC head coach Marco Balbul rued his side's mistakes as the Highlanders lost 1-3 against Mumbai City FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 on their home ground at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, in Guwahati, on Friday. Ahmed Jahouh saw his penalty cancelled out by Parthib Gogoi, but the visitors hit back with goals from Bipin Singh and Jorge Diaz to extend their unbeaten run in Hero ISL 2022-23.

Balbul called for his team to stick together despite their seventh defeat of the season and believes they can improve their situation in the upcoming games. The NEUFC gaffer was happy with the first-half performance and hopes to have all the players available for selection moving forward into the season. Balbul also spoke about trying to minimise mistakes and keep learning every day as he shared his thoughts in the official post-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts:

Another disappointing loss is coming your way. Your team was good in the first few minutes of the first and second halves. What are your thoughts about the game?

After we lost the game 3-1, you can go back to the first goal for Mumbai City FC. It was a decisive decision. Mumbai City FC are the best team in the league and are in the best shape.

We played very good football in the first half, and we scored a good equaliser. We were not concentrated in the defence and made silly mistakes in our own box, and the opponent punished us. The players worked really hard, and they gave everything, but it was not enough. In football, you need to bring in more quality.

You played with an Indian forward, and that is something no one has done in the league so far. Were you happy with the decision to start the game with an Indian forward?

It is not just an Indian forward, it is also a young and inexperienced forward. It was a decision because we know that we struggle in this position, and I know Wilmar Jordan can play, but he did not play for two months and he is not in good shape, but Parthib Gogoi showed great talent and did a good work. I am very happy with his performance, it will help NorthEast United FC a lot if we have more available players.

How satisfied are you after tonight’s performance?

It was a great performance in the first half. In the second half, it was a very bad start after that mistake and the third goal that finished the game because it became very difficult to chase after teams like these.

If we do not close them down, then the opposition can move the ball the way they want, and we lose the energy in the second half. I was not happy because the team did not look good enough. If we are to take points from Mumbai City FC, we needed to stay consistent for 90 minutes. But we still believe that we can change our situation. It looks very terrible, but we can change it.

NorthEast United FC are seven games without a win. What is the one big lesson from the game?

In football it is our job to fix the mistakes and to learn everyday. When you lose seven matches, you learn a lesson, but we should be more organised and concentrated in the defense, we cannot concede 2.3 to 2.5 goals on average. It is not possible to win games with these statistics.

What is your message to the team?

I appreciate the work of the players, and they are going in with all their power after seven defeats. They can lose confidence and belief, but we can see that they play like a unit and a team that wants to win, but we miss some quality and will try to bring it into the team to go forward.