The Highlanders’ assistant coach also revealed that the club have shortlisted names to appoint their new boss.

On Tuesday, NorthEast United assistant coach Khalid Jamil responded to fans’ questions on a Facebook live hosted by the club. One of the frequently asked questions was about the club’s new signings, to which he responded saying that they are not in a hurry to sign players due to the ongoing nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

“Because of the lockdown, we are not in a hurry. We have time. We are looking to sign some local talents and also some foreigners,” he said.

Jamil, who is also an AFC Pro License holder, added that the club will give more importance to local players in the upcoming season of the Indian Super League. “This season, we are trying to involve more local names in our team. We aim to give them more chances because I believe that there is a lot of talent among them,” the 43-year-old explained, before adding that the Highlanders have already signed Rochharzela from Aizawl FC.

The Mumbai-based coach heaped praise on the 21-year-old midfielder, also tipping him to replace Redeem Tlang who recently left the club to join FC Goa. “Rochharzela will join us next season. He has worked with me at Aizawl FC. Last year, he played very well for them and scored many goals. He can replace Redeem [Tlang],” he opined.

Upon being asked about how team selection is going on amidst the lockdown, Jamil said, “Before lockdown, we had started selection processes for the youth teams – U-13, U-15, U-18 – and for the reserve team as well. However, the lockdown has unfortunately slowed down our progress. Once all the restrictions are lifted, we will resume.”

NorthEast United had a very disappointing campaign in the 2019-20 season, finishing at the penultimate spot on the league table. Their head coach Robert Jarni parted ways with the club with three matches to spare and it was Khalid Jamil who took charge of them thereafter, as their interim head coach. “Circumstances are much different now when compared to last season. Last season we were pulled back due to injuries to some key players, but this time we will work hard for sure. We aim to be in the top four at least,” he said, responding to a fan’s question on how the club plans to recover from last season’s debacle.

He also revealed that a few foreign names have been shortlisted by the management for the role of head coach in the new season.

“Management have shortlisted a few foreign names for the role of head coach. We have time, we will arrive at our decision soon,” Jamil concluded.

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