NorthEast United FC head coach Juan Pedro Benali wants his team to enjoy the opportunity of going up against a top team like Mumbai City FC when they make a trip to Mumbai to take on the Islanders on Tuesday. 

The Highlanders have suffered a setback in the race for the playoffs after picking up just one point from the last two matches against teams ranked below them in the table and now need to depend on other results to qualify for the playoffs. 

But the Spaniard wants his team to focus solely on the task at hand and not look at the table. 

“I don't look at the table. We are focussing on Mumbai City FC,” Benali said at the pre-match press conference. 

“Our goal was to build a team and slowly we are arriving at that target. We want to build a hungry team, a fighting team, a team that plays and a team that knows our history. Sometimes, the team doesn't know what to do, but that doesn't mean it's not working,” he added. 

“We don't want to take the pressure of reaching the playoffs. Let the other teams think about that. We are just focussing on Mumbai and we will see later. We have nothing to lose playing against a team like Mumbai City FC. So we must go out and enjoy,” he added. 

Benali wants his players to cherish the challenge of taking on defending League Shield winners Mumbai City FC on their own patch as it’s a chance for his side to show what they are capable of. 

“In Mumbai, we face a very strong team that is playing for the Shield,” he said. 

“But we aren't going there for holidays. We will try to make it the most difficult game possible for them, enjoy the game, feel football and make it historical. This day and this game will never come back again,” he added. 

NorthEast United FC were stunned by Punjab FC in Guwahati but the Spaniard didn’t feel his side performed badly. 

“Punjab is the past. The performance wasn't bad. That's the most important thing. Our objective is clear. Every game we try to perform and try to do new things,” he said. 

Reacting to young Hyderabad FC securing their first win of the season, Benali reiterated the need to stay calm in games against Hyderabad FC. 

“They are a young team. They are running all over the pitch. So the way of stopping them is to score and stay calm. If you start to run with them, they will make you pay,” he said. 

“If you look at their games against Bengaluru FC and East Bengal FC, they were very close games. They drew against us and beat Chennaiyin FC. You need to be calm against teams like Hyderabad FC and not think that we are better than them,” he concluded.