ISL- Indian Super League

We should be able to have at least 3-4 centres by the end of May, 2024: NorthEast United FC CEO Mandar Tamhane

Yash Pratap SinghYash Pratap Singh

September 22 2023
NEUFC media day

The club will face Mumbai City FC in their opening match

The Indian Super League (ISL) is up and running with its 10th edition. All clubs are gearing up for their opening fixtures with a hope to put up a better performance this year. And NorthEast United FC are no less.

The Highlanders have put up a fresh look with multiple departures and arrivals taking place across the course of the summer. The club recently organised a media day where the Club’s new CEO Mandar Tamhane, head coach Juan Pedro Benali and some players addressed the media.

On that note, let us know what happened at the media day.

Mandar Tamhane’s words

Vision for the club

The CEO began by sharing his vision for the club, he said that NorthEast United are the only club who represent such a big region and it will take time and process to get better. “NorthEast United is the only club that represents a region and it’s a big region. It’s a big responsibility for me to give a representation which it is capable of and it deserves. Our main goal is to win. But, it takes time and process which we have to follow,”

He further added that the club plans to provide a platform to all the players from the region to express their talent.

“Apart from the first team there are a lot of things that we plan to do. The idea is to create a pathway for all the players from the region through our grassroots programs. It will be not just for the club, but for the Indian national team,” he asserted.

Team Formation

Mandar also spoke about how they selected the coaching staff and the players. He said, “In terms of the expectations, the main thing was to get the right coaching staff who understand our vision. It started with my first call with the owners back in April. In Juan we have a experienced coach who has work in so many continents,”

“He has been in different verticals of football. (Naushad) Moosa had worked with me for so many years and he has the capability to scout and make better players. A lot of players in the Indian squad are somehow associated with Moosa. Hence, getting individuals who understand our vision was very important” he added.

Grassroots project

Northeast United have finally started to focus on their grassroots project. Sharing an update on the same Mandar said once the ISL starts, the club will start executing its plans.

“The plan which I mentioned should’ve been started five years back. Now the first priority is the first team and the ISL. Once we settle in well after the first couple of games we’ll execute a few things that we have identified in a few cities and districts,”

He also mentioned that the club will open at least 3-4 centres across the region before the end of the season.

“First is Guwahati and Assam. Sikkim will be the only next step. We have a plan and coach identified in Manipur but due to the situation we don’t know when we start that. Before the end of 31st may, 2024 we should be able to have at least 3-4 centres across the region,” he quipped.

Juan Pedro Benali’s words

Coming to NorthEast United

Head Coach Juan Pedro Benali shared his thoughts on why he chose to come to NorthEast United. The Spaniard said, “I had the option to come to India for the last three years but it didn’t happen. Mr John (Abraham) and Mandar pushed me to come here. But, it was also about the region because i found that the majority of the Indian players come from this region,”

“There are a lot of things to do. We have to do a good job in the long term. And since I arrived, this place feels like home. It’s my club and my family. Everybody is family here. I think I made a good choice by coming to NorthEast United,” he further added.

Thoughts ahead of ISL opener

The head coach was quizzed about his thoughts ahead of his side’s season opener against defender league shield winner Mumbai City FC. He said that if the players believe in themselves, they can achieve it.

“We are NorthEast United and we have good players. If we believe in ourselves, we will achieve. Mumbai City FC will not come here for holidays. It will be a nice game and it is the best team we can play against to understand where we are. The first day will be a big day and I am sure that all the players will be proud of themselves,” he signed off.

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