The tactician will be looking to make tangible progress with the Highlanders in the upcoming season.

Indian Super League (ISL) side NorthEast United FC have appointed Israeli national Marco Balbul as their head coach, the club announced on Thursday. Marco becomes the 10th head coach of NEUFC in its nine-year history. 

The Highlanders are the last club to confirm their head coach ahead of the new season. Marco will take over the hot-seat at the club which was left vacant ever since the departure of Khalid Jamil.

Prior Experience

The 55-year-old started playing with Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa in 1987 before hanging up his boots for the same club in 2002. He then joined the club as an assistant manager until the summer of 2005.

Balbul then moved to top flight club Maccabi Netanya in 2006 before taking up his first project as a head coach the following year. In 2007, He was appointed as the head coach of Hapoel Beer Sheva, another top flight club of Israel. 

The former defender then signed for Maccabi Tel Aviv as an assistant manager. After spending more than a year working under three head coaches at the club, Marco decided to join Ihud Bnei Sakhnin as their manager in 2009. He averaged 1.74 points per match during his stay at the club in 24 matches.

After a short managerial spell with Maccabi Petah Tikva, Balbul teamed up with former NEUFC and Chelsea manager Avram Grant at Serbian top division club Partizan. In 2012, he returned to Bnei Sakhnin as a manager and maintained his good run of form.

He recorded 1.32 points per match in 44 matches for the Israeli club. Marco Balbul then made a move back to his former club Maccabi Haifa in the winter of the 2014-15 season as a manager. He managed the club for the 21 games and registered an impressive 1.48 PPM. 

However, his spell was cut short as he was appointed as the manager of the Israel U-21 national team. He managed the team from 2016 to 2018 and delivered satisfactory results. 

In 2018, he re-signed for Maccabi Haifa and recorded his career best statistics. From 2018-2020, Marco recorded 2.03 PPM in 65 games at Haifa, his career best figures. 

His success with the top flight club earned him a life changing move. Marco Balbul was appointed at the assistant coach of the Israeli national team under Willi Ruttensteiner from March 2021 to February 2022. 

NEUFC’s movements in the summer window

NorthEast United have extended the stays of Imran Khan, Provat Lakra and many other domestic players. They’ve also roped in Gaurav Bora, Jithin MS and Emil Benny as new recruits. However, the club has sold their megastar VP Suhair for a huge transfer fee.

The Highlanders’ head coach comes into the scene after handling a high profile project. He’ll have a tough job to accomplish keeping in mind the kind of 2021-22 season NEUFC had. Can he live up to his reputation? Only time will tell.

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