ISL 2020-21 Preview: North East United FC

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Ever since the inception of Indian Super League, North East United FC’s performance has been inconsistent in the tournament. Out of the seven head coaches that managed the team over the last six seasons of Indian Super League, only Eelco Schattorie guided them once to the semi-finals of this prestigious top tier football league of India. Last season, the team had a tough time in the office as they struggled to qualify for the ISL Playoffs and finished second from the bottom and had to fire their head coach Robert Jarni in the middle of the tournament. Khalid Jamil, who was given the responsibility to lead the team after the departure of Robert Jarni, could not guide Highlanders to the top 4 spots of ISL.

ISL 2020-21 Preview: North East United FC kwes1.appiah 20201111 181351 0

For the upcoming season of Indian Super League, the club appointed Spaniard Gerard Nus as their main head coach. The 35-year-old went on to become a part of the Liverpool FC backroom staff after he joined Liverpool academy at the age of just 22. Over the course of his career,  Nus spent his time with the clubs like Brighton & Hove Albion, Rayo Vallecano, Rayo Oklahoma FC and even Ghana National Football Team. In the upcoming season of Indian Super League, the Spaniard have a Herculean task of qualifying to the Semi-Finals of Indian Super League with Northeast United FC.

Apart from Federico Gallego, the club did not retain any of the foreigners from the last season of Indian Super League. They have signed six foreigners in this transfer window which has some impressive names.  In defence, the team recruited the services of experienced 33-year-old  Belgian Benjamin Lambot and 26-year-old Aussie Dylan Fox. Lambot has the experience of playing in a top competitive league of Belgium, Cyprus and Azerbaijan while Fox played more than 50 competitive A league matches for clubs like Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners. In attack, the club recruited the services of Luis Machado, Idrissa Sylla and Kwesi Appiah. Luis Machado previously played in Primeira Liga, the top division of Portuguese Football. Idrissa Sylla has played in Belgium and for Queens Park Rangers in the English Championship. Appiah has vast experience of playing in lower-division league of England. Federico Gallego’s performances were vital during 2018-19 season when club for the first time qualified into the Semi-Finals of Indian Super League.  Unfortunately, he had to miss nearly six months of football owing to injury but when he returned he was never the same player again. Gallego will want to prove his worth once again this time. Another new signing Khassa Kamara will be a player to watch out in the midfield.

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Among the Indian Players, right back Ashutosh Mehta joined the team from I-league winning team Mohun Bagan. Aizawl FC’s young sensation Rocccharzela will too represent the Highlanders in the upcoming season. Players like Pragyan Gogoi and Britto PM will be the one to watch out for in the upcoming season.

As it is for many ISL teams, North East United FC too will be very much dependent on their foreign contingent for the upcoming season. After the first initial matches, the team’s style and preferred formation will be clear. Although Kwesi Appiah scored for the Highlanders in the pre-season friendly, It is unlikely that he will start ahead of Idrissa Sylla. Goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury who made the most number of saves last season will be the main man guiding the goalposts this season. Northeast United FC has got a good set of players for the upcoming season. But can they qualify for Indian Super League Play-Offs? It will be interesting to know in the upcoming season.

Club Strength:

The Highlanders will mostly be relying on their foreign recruitments in the upcoming season. Players like Idrissa Sylla and Federico Gallego will have a big role to play. Northeast United FC’s midfield contains the likes of Apuia Lalengmawia and Khassa Camara which will bolster their midfield strength. 

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Club Weakness :

Injuries to vital foreign players may expose North East United FC in the upcoming season. The club had a disastrous defensive outing in the last season and defenders like Dylan Fox and Benjamin Lambot have a key role to play if Highlanders want to improve in defence this season. Northeast United FC will miss the services of Redeem Tlang across the wings this season and it will be interesting to watch how will Highlanders cope up without him.

Tactics:

Gerard Nus has made his intentions clear of playing attacking football in a preseason interview. The coach had a positive outing in the pre-season with the team where the club won one and drew the other among the two pre-season friendlies played so far. The coach is well known for playing in a formation of 4-1-4-1. During his time with Rayo Oklahoma, Nus mostly played with this formation. However considering the team and its players, it will be interesting to watch how he approaches next season with the Highlanders.

Expectations:

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North East United FC is not a team well known for having a high-end budget. But their below-par performances in the last few seasons should be a matter of question.  With the inclusions of some good foreigners and emerging young Indian talents, the team looks solid on paper. The team will most likely aim for keeping a consistent form throughout the season and qualify for the ISL Playoffs. The Highlanders fans can expect a good promising season from the club. However Will the players be able to deliver up to the expectations? Only time can tell the answer.

Full Squad :

Goalkeepers: Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Sanjiban Ghosh, Nikhil Dekha,Gurmeet Singh

Defenders: Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Gurjinder Kumar, Dylan Fox, Nabin Rabha, Mashoor Shereef, Rakesh Pradhan, Provat Lakra, Nim Dorjee, Wayne Vaz

Midfielders: Federico Gallego, Imran Khan, Lalengmawia, Khassa Camara, Roccharzela, Pragyan Gogoi, Lalrempuia Fanai.

Forwards: Idrissa Sylla, Kwesi Appiah, Britto PM, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Lalkhawpuimawia, Luis Machado, Suhair VP.

Predicted XI :

ISL 2020-21 Preview: North East United FC LINEUP111605493529327
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