We must be strong in defence, sharp in attack against Bengaluru: NorthEast United coach Khalid Jamil

Khalid Jamil believes his team needs to play with confidence and work harder than their opponent Bengaluru FC in their first match of the Hero Indian Super League 2021-22 season at the GMC Athletic stadium in Bambolim, Goa on Saturday.

The Highlanders surprised a lot of people when they qualified for the semi-finals last season. Therefore, the expectations would be higher this time around. While, their opponents had a relatively mediocre season with respect to their usual standards. BFC finished seventh in the league.

NorthEast United FC have an underwhelming head to head record against Bengaluru FC. They have only won one out of 10 matches against them and will look to improve on those numbers under Jamil, who will be the first permanent Indian head coach to be in charge of a Hero ISL team.

Ahead of their opening match against Bengaluru FC, head coach Jamil and assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the press conference.

You have become the first Indian head coach in Hero ISL. So, What are the challenges going into the season?

It’s a big challenge. We are playing a good team tomorrow who have quality players. So we can’t take the match lightly. We have to focus and think positively.

NorthEast United FC have never won against Bengaluru FC in the league stage. What are your feelings ahead of tomorrow's match?

We don’t think about the past. We have to stay focused from the first minute till the end. We have to give our best and everything will be fine.

NEUFC hasn’t announced its captain for the season. So, who’s going to captain the side?

We have four captains this season. Subhasish Roy, Hernan Santana, Federico Gallego, and Khassa Camara.

Who will be your target man in the first 11?

There will be one target man, maybe two. We still haven’t decided yet. We will talk about it in the evening today. But we definitely have Deshorn Brown and Mathias Coureur. Even the Indian boys, William Lalnunfela and V.P. Suhair are doing well.

How strongly do you rate your squad this season and what can the fans expect from the team?

Expectations are going to be high this season so we have to do well. In context to the match against Bengaluru FC, we need a good start tomorrow. Defensively we have to be strong, attacking wise we have to be sharp. And we must play as a team to help each other.

Some of the best performers of last season have left the squad, do you think your side has ample quality to fill the gap those players left?

Every player has to work hard. If you work hard you will get what you want. Talking about quality, there’s no difference between any player. If you work hard you will get the results.

There’s always a debate about Indian and foreign coaches. So you being an Indian coach what advantages do you have?

See, I never compare. For me a coach is a coach, whether Indian or foreigner. You just have to work hard and give your best.

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