The NorthEast boss said his team should have finished off the game against Goa in the first half…

NorthEast United FC’s semi-final hopes in Hero Indian Super League 2016 took a massive blow after a 2-1 defeat against FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Friday evening. The Highlanders started brightly after taking the lead through Seityasen Singh in the 50th minute. However, goals from Robin Singh in the 62ndminute and Romeo Fernandes late in injury time ensured NorthEast stumbled to their fourth successive loss.

Speaking to the media at the post-match press conference, NorthEast’s head coach Nelo Vingada was gracious in defeat and took full responsibility for his side’s fourth defeat in a row. “I must congratulate Goa because they played with ten men. They fought till the end and they won. Of course, I am disappointed as we should have finished the game in the first half itself. We created a lot of chances but in the second half we allowed them to come back. Goa even with ten men believed that they could win. I’m disappointed with the loss,” said Vingada.

He continued: “I take responsibility for the loss as I brought two fresh forwards with fifteen minutes to go and I got Romaric also on but we lost control of the game and today was a big and strong defeat for me and today we missed a very good chance to get three points, and yes after this defeat the morale is down but we are not finished as nobody has qualified yet… My target for the club is to reach the semi-finals but today we took two steps back.”

Friday’s result also marked Goa’s first home win of the season and it came despite having Sahil Tavora sent off after he had received a second yellow card. Goa also started the match with nine Indians after four foreign players – Rafael Dumas, Luciano Sobrosa, Gregory Arnolin and Richarlyson – couldn’t feature on account of suspensions. When asked if complacency had played a role in the eventual outcome of the game, Vingada said: “No, I tell the players that all games start from scratch…I knew the Indian players may not be that good with technique but that their fighting spirit will be more than usual and they showed great attitude and my players did not underestimate them.”

Meanwhile, FC Goa head coach Zico sang his team’s praises. “This match proved we are not inferior to anyone. We have had problems, my players know about the difficulties but they fought hard and gave this gift to the fans,” the legendary Brazilian said after the match.

“It will be beneficial to Indian football if there are more Indian players in the squad. I want you to know I do not form the line-up looking at the nationalities. I pick players who are playing better.”

Sitting next to Zico, goalkeeper Laxmikanth Kattimani also expressed satisfaction at his performance on the night that saw him keep the Highlanders’ attackers at bay quite a few times. “The team has been doing well and we have been trying hard since the first day. This is our first home victory and all the players played well and it was a good game,” the Hero of the Match said.

In their first encounter this season which NorthEast won 2-0, it was Kattimani’s error that had led to Emiliano Alfaro’s opening goal. The goalkeeper said he had moved on from that blunder early last month. “The mistake I made in the past, I have forgotten it already. I’m looking now forward to the next match [against Mumbai City FC at Fatorda on November 16] and giving my best.”

Report and Picture © ISL Media