The head coach sounded desperate for signing a new striker.

NorthEast United had put up a tough show against ATK Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday. After conceding the first goal in the first half, Marco Balbul’s side got back into the game in the 81st minute, courtesy a brilliant header from defender Aaron Evans. However, a last minute clinical brilliance from Subhasish Bose helped the Mariners spoil the Highlanders’ hope of going back with a point.

Head coach Marco Balbul attended the post-match press conference. Here’s what he had to say.

Deserved a point?

Compared to their previous outings, NorthEast United definitely registered a better performance. Their equaliser was something which silenced the crowd as well.

Marco Balbul started, “We deserved one point because we created good chances to score. We scored a goal. But in the last minute, unfortunately, we lost concentration and lost the chance to get one point. It could have been a massive point for us after five losses. Everything in the game went against us.”

Motivation after six losses

NorthEast United have now lost six matches in a row. At such a juncture, it becomes very difficult for a tactician to keep his side motivated for the upcoming games.
Marco Balbul however, sounded positive. He asserted, “They (NEUFC players) gave everything on the pitch. They fought until the last minute crazily. If we compare the GPS of my team to that of ATKMB, I’m sure my players were better. The better team wins the game. I appreciate the performance of my team.”

Half time team talk

The tactician disclosed what he told the team during the lemon break.

“My first sentence was that ATKMB did nothing in the first half. The first goal was a gift. We worked very hard on the pitch. We lost the ball at crucial areas. Why we should give such a gift to a big team? We should have more concentration when we have the ball because we know the chaos ATKMB can create in counter-attacks. For me, both the goals are gifts. They (ATKMB) didn’t deserve more than one point.”

Performance will boost the morale of the side?

NorthEast United will be facing Mumbai City in their next game. A sublime (compared to the previous outings) performance usually acts as a motivation when the club prepares to face another tough opponent in a few days.

Balbul claims, “It doesn’t matter whom we play in the next game. We will be better in every coming game. NEUFC are the only side with five foreigners in a team. We are searching for a new foreigner who can help us. We have to play Michael (Jakobsen) as a centre-back. It’s a big loss. We need to sign a new foreigner before the Mumbai City game.”

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Winter transfer window targets

A few days back Sylvester Igboun left the club (as was reported by Khel Now). Marco Balbul shed light on the reinforcements the team needs in winter.

“Sylvester was there – a forward. In six games, we scored two goals and both of them came from set-pieces. We are desperate for a striker who can score for us. Today we played a young player (Parthib Gogoi) who is hardly 20. We should sign a new striker immediately.”

Support from the management?

It has been a disappointing string of results for Marco Balbul’s side. Six matches, two goals and zero points outlines the misery the club is currently in.

When asked if he is receiving the backing of the management, the tactician replied, “If the owner gives me support or not, it doesn’t matter. I will do my job. It is not in my control (backing of the management). I can do what is in my control.

“Today you saw a team which wants to win a game, which wants to play quality football and create chances – even with the young players. I will be more than happy to change the situation because I believe I can change it. Six losses in a row is also my worst record in my coaching career,” he concluded.

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