NorthEast United FC head coach Vincenzo Annese was dejected as his side went down 3-1 to Odisha FC in the latest fixture of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, in Guwahati, on Friday.

Odisha FC dominated the proceedings from the beginning and were rewarded with a goal in the opening half when Nandhakumar Sekar picked up the ball and went for a powerful strike that swerved past NorthEast United FC custodian Arindam Bhattacharja. Josep Gombau’s side doubled their lead in the 65th minute as Victor Rodriguez took a sharp turn inside the box and beat the keeper with a first-time shot. Diego Mauricio extended the lead from a spot kick. In the stoppage time, Wilmar Gil converted a penalty to reduce the margin for the home side.

The Juggernauts have now moved up to the fifth position in the points table with 30 points from 19 games. Meanwhile, the Highlanders continue to languish in the bottom position with just 5 points from 19 games. Annese shared his thoughts on the game after his side suffered their sixteenth defeat of the campaign.

“First half, we played very well. We conceded the goal from a corner kick. We know that we have this problem all the time with man-marking, go outside fast from the books. We need to finish our chances. We got two-three chances in the first half,” Annese said in the post-match press conference.

“The difference they make in some episodes then followed. This was the situation from the second half. They (Odisha FC) were super in the second half, so we lost the game,” he added.

Annese felt his side started well in the second half but couldn’t deal with pressure due to lack of experience.

“We started well in the second half just then conceded the goal from one lapse. They (Odisha FC) have quality. We are sad because we prepared very well for the game,” the head coach said.

“In the first half especially we tried some good counterattacks. We were superb in some actions. It was a good opportunity for us to get the winning points because we played decently,” Annese added further.

Parthib Gogoi, who has scored two goals from 17 appearances this season, went for a wild effort from distance in the second half but Odisha FC keeper Amrinder Singh punched away the attempt for a corner. Annese praised the young attacker and believes he has a bright future.

“When he shoot from outside, it was really superb because he kicked so well. He just has to score. In the defensive phase, he still needs to improve. He must cut more to the centre behind the striker, what I ask from him. But he has all quality and time to develop himself,” Annese stated.

“He is 20 years, playing in the Hero ISL with this quality so he has all the future for himself. He can also play for the national team. He needs to go step-by-step, year-by-year,” he added.

NorthEast United FC will be back in action against Chennaiyin FC on Friday for their last league game. Annese remained hopeful of a better performance from his side against the Marina Machans.

“This game is sad. But we have all the time for the next match to come closer against Chennaiyin FC. We have the opportunity to play well with confidence,” Annese said.

“We have to believe in ourselves. The more experience comes, the more this team can improve,” he concluded.