The NorthEast United head coach believes ATK Mohun Bagan didn’t deserve to lose against Mumbai City.

NorthEast United will travel to the city of dreams with a dream to fulfil. The Highlanders have come back empty handed from all the cities they’ve been to so far and Vincenzo Alberto Annese’s new look NorthEast United will be keen to change that.

The Italian has helped them change their fortunes since he took charge. The Guwahati-based side has racked up four points this season, all of them coming against the sides who sit in the top six. Next up, is their biggest challenge of the season in Mumbai City who are eyeing an invincible season.

Here’s what NorthEast United FC’s head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese and midfielder Pragyan Gogoi had to say at the pre-match press conference.

Thoughts on Mumbai City

The mentor began with sharing his thoughts on the improvement of his side and the departure of Jon Gaztanaga. He said, “I’m so happy with the improvement that we have made so far. The guys feel more powerful and strong. In the next game we will not have Jon (Gazatanaga). We’ll miss him in the middle. But there will be no change in the type of football that we need to create.”

He further went on to sharing his thoughts on the Islanders and said they are a very strong opponent. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us to have such a big club like Mumbai City. We need to focus on ourselves and not their results. We know they are very strong opponents, but so were FC Goa, ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC.

“If you see the game between ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City, ATKMB did not deserve the loss at all. I hope we perform well. We hope to give a good performance against Mumbai City as they will not be busy,” he asserted.

Playing without Jon Gaztanaga

The head coach also shed some light on Jon Gaztanaga‘s departure. He said that Jon was a key player, but the team needs to focus on performing without him.

“We have lost one of the key players; we know how important he was. But we have other players and some players can substitute for him. For sure it will impact, but we need to focus on performing without him,” he stated.

Change of tactics?

Vincenzo Alberto Annese mentioned that there will be no change of tactics and expressed his happiness on Des Buckingham’s presence in their last match.

“No, I’ll not change my approach because it might create confusion. And I’m so happy that the coach came to watch us. We know that we face one of the top teams. They’ve the motivation to stay at the top.”

He then explained a few key details of Mumbai City, about how they operate.

“We know that in the first 40 minutes they try to attack everywhere, press more and make tactical fouls. Kerala Blasters who are a very compact side defensively conceded four goals in 21 minutes against Mumbai City. So we know all these things and despite all this, we hope to perform well,” he said.

Pragyan’s Comment

Mood in the camp

The midfielder was asked about the mood in the dressing room after the draw against FC Goa. He said, “Everyone is motivated after that draw. We waited to win, but I hope it’s a positive result for us. We are really focused on the next match. Although there’s a small gap between the last game and this game, we’re really focusing on what the coach wants us to do. We hope to get a positive role.”

Jon’s departure

Pragyan also shared his thoughts on how Jon’s departure would affect the team, “Jon was like an elder brother to me. He used to help us and was like a leader in the team. He told me to be confident. I think we will miss him but we have the players to replace him.”

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