The interim coach insists that the Highlanders will prepare in the same way for Kerala Blasters as they do for every other game.

NorthEast United could seal their spot in the Indian Super League 2020-21 playoffs, if they earn a point against Kerala Blasters on Friday. The Highlanders are currently fourth in the points table with 30 points in 19 games. On the other hand, their opponents have nothing to play for but pride, as their playoffs hopes have already ended. Ahead of their game against the Yellow Army, NorthEast United coach Khalid Jamil spoke to the media.

Kerala Blasters’ threat

The Highlanders’ coach was full of praise for their opponents. He said, “They are a good team and have good talented players, foreigners also good. Quality team. So, we have to prepare. It will be a really difficult game. We should not take this match lightly and must fight.”

No place for complacency

The Highlanders only need one more point  from their last game to guarantee a place in the playoffs. On being asked if his team would focus more on not losing the game rather than winning, the 43-year old said, “How we prepare for all matches, the preparations will be the same.

“We are not thinking like that. We are playing with a good Kerala team, a good side with good foreign players. They have good Indian boys.”

 Different challenge in ISL

Khalid Jamil has previously won the I-League with Aizawl FC. On being asked if it was different managing NorthEast United, the former Aizawl head coach stated, “It is a big challenge here. We are dealing with good teams in the ISL, they have more quality players, coaches also. Tomorrow’s game also is like that. So, it is a different challenge.”

Impact of Deshorn Brown

NorthEast United signed forward Deshorn Brown from Bengaluru FC in the January transfer window. Since his arrival, the Jamaican has netted five goals for the Highlanders. On being asked about the impact he has had on the team, the former Mohun Bagan coach said, “After the introduction of Brown, everybody is feeling good because he is one of the quality strikers. It is our pleasure to be with him. He is a nice player and a good striker. It is an advantage for us.”

Further, Khalid Jamil also spoke about youngster Imran Khan. “Imran – he came and played last two matches. Scored one goal and one assist in the last game when he played in his natural position. So, if we give him more chances, he will be a vital player for us.”

Alison Kharsyntiew

Accompanying Khalid Jamil was NorthEast United assistant coach Alison Kharsynitiew. He stated that the team were confident ahead of the big match. “It will be good if we win tomorrow.  We are confident that the players will do well. They have done very well in the last game and hopefully it will continue tomorrow. It will be a big achievement for all of us, the team, the club as a whole.”

The former Shillong Lajong coach also gave an update on Federico Gallego’s injury. “Big improvement in him, but we still haven’t decided. The coach hasn’t decided about him.”

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