Nelo Vingada, NorthEast United’s Portuguese coach had a very positive outlook post his team’s 1-0 victory over FC Pune City…
Speaking to the press, he said, “I must say congratulations but also thanks because they played today as champions. They are not champions but today they played as champions.” He also took time to thank the supporters who had flocked to the stadium in great numbers, “I cannot forget the supporters who were helping us outside the field.”
The team has already gelled very well, something Nelo Vingada was quick to point out on more than one occasion. “Feeling great pride to be a member of this great family where I am now.” He continued, saying, “My birth family is in Portugal, but this is my second family. We have a very good atmosphere and that gave us the possibility to fight with 10 men.”
Again, he pointed out, “Zuala and Jerry are 18 years old and Zokora is 35 but they are always together. The team at the swimming pool, at restaurants has a great atmosphere.”
When questioned about the game and NorthEast’s lack of goals despite the great start, Vingada agreed with the sentiment,l that his team need to start scoring more often.
“We missed two or three good chances. We created 3-4 and we scored one, in Mumbai we created chances but we didn’t score so it was a step forward. After 1-0, we had two very fantastic chances but the goalkeeper also made two fantastic saves.”
The two red cards in the game swung the pendulum to both sides, creating an unpredictable game.
Reflecting on the decisions, Vingada stated, “The first foul, I couldn’t see if it was a foul for a red card. For me it was supposed to be a yellow card but the referee could maybe see better than me. The second was similar. Many times these days, players jump and touch the opponent with the hand and many times the referee doesn’t show a card.” The Portuguese was sympathetic with the referees, “The life of a referee is very hard, it’s not easy being a referee and the referee is a part of the game.”
On the overall performance, the gaffer’s opinion was, “I’d prefer playing with 11 rather than 10 players, some of our players needed to run more and finish the game very tired but what was important was with 10 men, some of our players doubled their effort. It seemed like we were still playing 11Vs11. Our team was the best today and deserved to win because we created more chances”
NorthEast United play again on Saturday, another away game to Delhi Dynamos. The team on top of the table will already be playing their 5th game of the season. The veteran manager is well aware of the challenges awaiting his side.
“Even though we won, we will be playing in three days at Delhi so we have to control our emotions. We need to be focused. But with our team, we can fight to make a good result. Also, today we had to make two changes but the identity of the team is such that it absorbs the new players very easily. They are following my instructions down to the tee,” the Portuguese said.
His team showed fight, character and a winning attitude to keep going in a troublesome situation and come out trumps. For this, Nelo Vingada was rightly full of praise of his team after the game. For the Highlanders though, this is just the start.
Report by Khel Now Correspondent from Pune Miqdad Haider.