After witnessing last season, this might be hard to believe, but yes, NorthEast United FC and FC Goa will today face each other in the bottom of the table affair after a dodgy start to the ongoing edition of the Indian Super League. Khalid Jamil’s NorthEast United only have a solitary point after their first three games, while FC Goa are pointless after their first two games. Both may have different reasons for this, but one common thing is the injury of key players in both camps. Highlanders’ Uruguayan Talisman Federico Gallego has been ruled out of the tournament. While on the other side, FC Goa are missing the services of the likes of Brandon Fernandes and Muhammed Nemil.
In the pre-match conference, sat the NorthEast United FC head coach Khalid Jamil, accompanied by the defender Gurjinder Kumar. Here are some of the excerpts from the same.
How have you prepared for this game?
“Preparation has been good. We are thinking positively about this game. We are playing a stronger team, and they are well-organized. So we will have to be careful and positive. We have to think positively and give our 100%.”
Gurjinder, three games, only one point. How is the mood in the camp?
“Mood is ok. Every player in the camp know that they have to win. Our Khalid sir was also a player in his days. He is well aware of these things happening in football. As always, we are positive that we will win.”
Coach, how will be the midfield approach in the absence of Gallego and Hernan Santana?
“Yes, we will definitely miss Gallego as he is one of the quality midfielders we have. We don’t have any excuse. We are preparing other options. We have Pragyan (Gogoi), Sehnaj (Singh), and maybe we will start with Imran (Khan), who is back after two games.”
“Hernan is available!”
NEUFC looked a different team when Gallego was on the pitch last game. How do you address his absence in the midfield?
“Yes. I have already said that we will miss Gallego. Last game when he played 20 minutes, it was good for us. After his injury, he went out, and we struggled. This time we have enough time. We did good preparation, and we will hope to do positive things tonight.”
Your opponents FC Goa haven’t had the best of starts to the season. What do you make of your opponents?
“FC Goa are a quality side with quality players. We don’t want to take them lightly. We want to play positively against them.”
Do you think that the reduced number of foreigners have affected certain teams more than others?
“This rule is for everybody. So we have to accept and carry on.”
Do you think Northeast United FC can go all out for the three points without Gallego?
“We don’t have any option now. Just go out, think positively and play well. That’s what we are prepared for, and that’s how we prepare for all the games. In this match, we will have to be tactically very good to get all the three points.”
Gurjinder, have you felt any difference between this season and last season?
“No difference. We want to pick up from where we finished last season. We aim to finish better and fight for the trophy. I’m trying to learn during the training, and hopefully, we will do better.”
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