The Highlanders failed to qualify for the playoffs in the 3rd successive season…

NorthEast United FC head coach Nelo Vingada bowed out of the 2016 Hero Indian Super League following a 1-0 defeat by Kerala Blasters FC at Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday evening. The Highlanders needed to win the contest to advance to the semis but the defeat meant they finished fifth in the table with 18 points from 14 games.

At the post-match press conference Vingada was gracious in defeat. “First, congratulations to Kerala and also to the fantastic people here in Kochi. Coming to the game, Kerala scored and we did not and we had some good chances and Kerala also created some good chances. Also, thanks to Guwahati and we may not have qualified but we fought till the end, and all teams got a close win against us but I don’t want to say we were unlucky. I believe we won the respect of all teams. I want to also thank John [Abraham] and I hope the future can be better for NorthEast United,” the Portuguese said.

Commenting on now what lies ahead for him, the 63-year-old said: “The league is very short and I would like to start the preparations [for the next season straight away]. I believe now the balance of the team is good and we faced all the teams well and put in a good effort, and now I know the league better. In this short season, it important to understand the local football here and it is important to keep the balance of the team. From 2018, we must play according to the rules of the Asian Football Confederation where we play only four foreigners, including one Asian player, so this can be very important for the coaching squad in making the team and also knowing the Indian players better. The only thing I regret is that our preparation period started a bit late. With more time to prepare, we could have done better.”

Vingada also threw his weight behind the thought that the league should be longer in duration from next year on. “Of course, I have told it many times that we have played four games in 12 days and we played five games in a lot of days’ time. Then two games consecutively away and then home. We can extend the season and play more games as we play in all countries. I believe between games we need time to recover and that’s why I tell you that the preparation period should be longer for us and I believe we could have come here [in a] better [position] but we must learn and be better for the future. I believe NorthEast United have good potential to become a good team in India,” he said.

Vingada also shed light on why star player Nicolas Velez didn’t feature in the game on Sunday. “Nico had passed all the tests and it looked all okay and so he was in the team. Of course during the warm-up he did not feel comfortable and every coach needs a player who is 100% and so I had to make the change. It is part of the game and of course it is sad and I feel [Wellington] Priori played a good game,” he said.


Report and Photo Courtesy: ISL Media