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Many players from NorthEast United deserve to be in Indian National team, asserts Juan Pedro Benali

Published at :February 9, 2024 at 11:58 PM
Modified at :February 9, 2024 at 11:58 PM
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Yash Pratap Singh


NorthEast United have drawn their last three matches

Indian Super League (ISL) side NorthEast United FC will look to settle scores against their arch-rivals and neighbours East Bengal when they host them in Guwahati. Both sides come into the game after a draw in their previous match.

NorthEast United are ranked 8th while East Bengal find themselves in 9th on the points table. Ahead of the match head coach Juan Pedro Benali and midfielder Macarton Louis addressed the media and shared their thoughts.

Giving away the lead

When asked about his team’s tendency to give away the lead after scoring first, the head coach said that sometimes it’s due to a lack of concentration.

“Last game was not that. It was the contrary. The problem is the other team also plays. You know, we’re not playing alone. There are 11 players. Sometimes it’s a lack of concentration. Each game is totally different, another story. We concede, yes, but since the Durand Cup until now, we score more than the goals we receive. 

Juan Pedro Benali also added that his team has only had problems in the games against East Bengal and Mohun Bagan where they conceded a lot of goals.

“The only problem we have in ISL are the games against East Bengal in Kolkata and Mohun Bagan here. After that, we don’t receive many goals. We keep ourselves more strong defensively. We always score, that’s important. And we hope tomorrow we can score more than the other team,” he asserted.

Thoughts on East Bengal

Sharing his thoughts on East Bengal, the Spaniard said that his team forgets, but never forgives and is looking forward to the match.

“We know how they play, they know how we play. We know each other very well and we’ll see them here at home tomorrow and we hope our fans come because we say we forgive but we don’t forget. And that for me is clear. We forgive but we don’t forget. And we want to see them here,” he quipped.

Change in timing

The Highlanders’ clash against East Bengal will be played at 5 PM IST. Speaking about the change in timing, Benali said that it is good timing and he needs the fans to show up tomorrow.

“We need our fans. It’s good timing. There’s no excuse. We need people here. If you’re a real fan of NorthEast (United), come to the stadium. You have no more excuses. You know, I always say, love us because we belong to the same team as you. Don’t love me because I win,” he said.

Thoughts on Igor Stimac’s comments

India’s head coach Igor Stimac recently spoke about the lack of performances from the first team and cited the youth system as a major problem. Benali replied and said, “I heard the national team coach complaining that India didn’t win under 19, under 17. How will they win in the first team? Well, it’s very easy. Come to see the games. Go to see the under 19s. Make competition for the reserve teams and then complain. Take the young players to the national team. Not only the same players for the last four years and you complain. And you complain about the job we’re doing in the teams. We’re also coaches, okay? 

He also added that it is easy to complain from far away and invited Igor Stimac to come and sit with the ISL coaches to find a solution.

“They are professional players. Okay, I don’t complain. I don’t criticize what they do in the national team. Don’t criticize what we’re doing in the teams. Come, sit with us and see what we’re doing. It’s easy to complain from far away. There are many players that deserve to be in national teams, from Northeast United, from other teams. Let’s work, make the reserve teams to arrive, like this small competition, and we will have a lot and great Indian national team,” he mentioned.

Thoughts ahead of the game

The head coach expressed his thoughts ahead of the game and said that both the fans and players have been waiting for this match since the Durand Cup semi-final.

“It’s another new game, tomorrow it’s the final, it’s a great game. I think our fans have been waiting for this game since the Durand Cup. And we hope we make them proud tomorrow, that’s the most important thing. And also the players and us, we’re waiting for it,” he added.

Message to the fans

Sharing a message to the fans, Juan said that, “The most important thing, if you love your team and you love your players, Don’t criticize them. Help them, push them, but don’t insult them. Don’t be obsessed with one single player. You know, for example, when you have a goalkeeper who saves 100 times and will make one mistake, and you only remember the mistake, and you forget the 100 times he saved. Or a player who missed the goal, but he scored. No, you only remember the miss. 

He also urged the fans to be real supporters and to be with the team.

“Be with your team, be a real supporter. Don’t help the other teams against us. Because when you criticize us and you insult us, how will we go to the game? We are lucky we have the Highlanders Brigade with us. They love us, they’re pushing us. And you know, when you go in the streets in Guwahati, it’s great,” he signed off.

Macaron Louis’s comments 

Words from the coach

Macarton was asked about his conversation with the head coach before a game. He replied and said he tries to complete every job that the coach assigns him.

“There’s nothing much he tells me because there’s no pressure before the game for me. We have been practicing the sessions, so we have been preparing each game. So if he’s giving me a job, I’ll be doing that. I’m ready to play anywhere, wherever he puts me. So it’s been a good season for me so far. He’s trusting young players like me and many other players,” he concluded.

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