The NEUFC head coach spoke about East Bengal, Federico Gallego’s replacement and much more.

NorthEast United’s disappointing run continues as they find themselves in the bottom two of the league table. In the first six games, Khalid Jamil and Co. have accumulated just four points with a win and a draw and have been handed a defeat on four occasions.

The side from Guwahati are undergoing a tough phase and it’ll only get tougher from here. But, believe is everything as they say and with the believe to get their season back on track, NorthEast United will turn up against their neighbours SC East Bengal on December 17.

Ahead of the clash, head coach Jamil and Aussie centre-back Patrick Flottmann addressed the media. Here’s what they had to say:

Thoughts on SC East Bengal

NorthEast United’s opponents tomorrow also have a similar story to tell. They’re placed at the bottom of the table, but can turn things around on their days. Sharing his thoughts on the Red and Gold, Khalid said, “Talking about East Bengal, they’re a good side. As I’ve said before, all the teams are good in the ISL. We’ve to think about our game and think positive to get three points.”

Reason behind bad start to season 

Khalid Jamil turned NorthEast United’s from a Volkswagen to a Ferrari when he took over as the interim coach last season. He established an unbeaten run of 11 games, the most by any head coach for the Guwahati-based club. But, this season things have gone from bad to worse.

When asked about what is the reason behind this, Khalid said, “I’ve never got the full squad. From the first game, some players got food poising. Then (Deshorn) Brown and (Federico) Gallego were injured. Before this game, Khassa (Camara) and (Deshorn) Brown are injured.

“But, I’m not giving any excuses. I’m saying that I’ve never got all the six foreigners and it’s difficult. It’s the same situation for us even before this game, but we’ve to fight. I believe in my boys. We’ve to fight, think positively and play confidently. And everything will be fine after this game. Tomorrow, whether we play good or bad, we need a win,” he further added.

Team News 

It has been a tough season for the Highlanders’ first-choice target man, Deshorn Brown. The Jamaican is struggling with fitness issues and will be out for the game against SC East Bengal. Sharing an update on his striker, Jamil said, “Brown is definitely not going to play. He’s having an hamstring injury. He played 90 minutes in first game and then got injured in the second game. We made him play in the fourth game and again he got an hamstring injury. Maybe he’ll play the next game or after that.”

“Khassa and Hernan (Santana) are also doubtful. We’ve to see tomorrow and remaining players are fit,” he revealed.

Federico Gallego’s replacement 

With games coming thick and fast and NorthEast United’s injury concerns not coming to an end, it’s high time for the Highlanders to look at the winter transfer window. They need to bring in a replacement of Gallego and sharing an update on the same, Khalid Jamil said, “We’re getting a good player soon to replace Gallego.” 

Patrick Flottmann’s comments

This is Patrick Flottmann’s first stint in India. Sharing his experience in the league so far, Patrick said that the level of the ISL is really good and it has been a good experience for him so far.

“It’s been great for myself so far. The conditions and style of obviously different back home. It’s a really good league with a good standard and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I hope for the future as well and I think the league’s going to get better and better each year,” the Aussie said.

Reason for signing for NorthEast United

The Australian defender was quizzed about what convinced him to come to India and sign for NorthEast United in the middle of the pandemic. Flottmann said, “I’d obviously heard a bit about the ISL before coming over because quite a few Aussies have been playing here in the last couple of seasons. Obviously, I played with (Adam) Le Fondre as well, he won the title with Mumbai City last year. I spoke with him a bit about India before leaving and he had high praise for the league.”

“Obviously for signing as well I spoke with the coach. His philosophy, his way of coaching and way he goes about things in football sense. That really interested me. So that was kind of icing on the cake and that’s why I wanted to come. I’m really glad I did because I’ve learned a lot so far and really enjoying it. I think it’s going to improve me as a footballer and a person as well.” he added.

Message to teammates

The young defender from Down Under has become a mainstay in the Highlanders’ backline. He was asked about what would be his message to his teammates to keep up their consistency, Patrick said, “We’ve definitely played well through patches. But, the main goal for us now is to do that throughout the whole game for 90 minutes, rather than patches.

“Speaking of the game against East Bengal, we really need to get off to good start. As a defence, we need to keep a clean-sheet and take our chances in front of goal. If we did that, we should be able to get three points,” Patrick concluded.

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