Changing times at NorthEast United FC
The 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League is only three weeks away and the NorthEast United FC fans are waiting to see their team on the pitch, albeit from home.
The Highlanders have failed to make it to the knockout stage of the league five times out of the six seasons with Eelco Schattorie the only manager successful in helping the team finish in the top 4.
After sacking Robert Jarni towards the end of the 2019-20 season, the club has hired the young Spanish manager Gerard Nus. The 35-year old has been a part of esteemed coaching teams at Liverpool, Brighton and Hove Albion, Elche, and the Ghanian national football team.
In the last season, NorthEast United FC finished a disappointing 9th on the league table with only 2 wins from 18 league matches. The fans of the Guwahati-based club would definitely be hoping for more than a couple of wins in the upcoming league season.
Will the new bunch of players come with new luck for NEUFC?
After letting go of Ghanian legend Asamoah Gyan, the wage-bill at the club was relaxed allowing the club to bring in experienced overseas players like Dylan Fox, Idrissa Sylla, Luis Machado, Benjamin Lambot, Khassa Camara, and Kwesi Appiah.
Club’s all-time appearances record holder Reagan Singh was signed by Chennaiyin FC during the off-season and has left a hole in the right side of the Highlanders defense. The club has roped in the experienced right-back Ashutosh Mehta who has played for Mohun Bagan, ATK, and Aizawl FC in the previous few seasons.
Khalid Jamil, the assistant coach at the club has helped in local recruitment starting with Mehta and the young duo of Rochharzela and Nabin Rabha. The attacking midfielder and the centre-back both made their name in Indian football while playing for clubs based in the north-eastern part of the country.
Subhasish Roy Chowdhury stamped himself as the club’s No.1 and is expected to retain his No.1 role at the club with new signings Sanjiban Ghosh and James Kithan proving back-up for the veteran shot-stopper.
The 26-year old Australian centre-back Dylan Fox has joined the Highlanders and will be partnered by the 33-year old experienced Belgian defender Benjamin Lambot who has most of his career representing the Belgian top division clubs.
Ashutosh Mehta is supposed to be the first choice right-back for the upcoming season with Rakesh Pradhan providing back-up for the 29-year old. New signing Gurjinder Singh is coming fresh off an I-League success with Mohun Bagan and should be the first choice for playing on the left side of defense.
The former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal midfielder Surabuddin Mollick could form a double pivot with the 27-year old Ghanian midfielder Khassa Camara. Losing key midfielder Puitea to Kerala Blasters in the off-season has affected the squad depth of the club in this position.
Club skipper Federico Gallego is the only overseas player retained by the Highlanders and the Uruguyan would be hoping to be the club’s first-choice No.10 with Luis Machado and Britto PM playing on either wing.
NorthEast United has signed two excellent foreign strikers in Idrissa Sylla and Kwesi Appiah. Starting his career in France, Sylla has represented clubs like RC Anderlecht and Queens Park Rangers over the last few years, bagging QPR’s top-scorer award in the 2016-17 season.
Appiah on the other hand has spent most of his career in League One, England’s third tier representing clubs like AFC Wimbledon and Cambridge United. The presence of VP Suhair and Lalkhawpuimawia provides some squad depth in this position.
NorthEast United FC full squad for the upcoming season
- Goalkeepers: James Kithan, Sanjiban Ghosh, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury
- Defenders: Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar, Nabin Rabha, Ponif Waz, Rakesh Pradhan, Wayne Vaz
- Midfielders: Britto PM, Dipu Mirdha, Federico Gallego, Imran Khan, Lalengmawia, Lalrempuia Fanai, Khassa Camara, Luis Machado, Mashoor Shereef, Ninthoi Meetei, Pragyan Sundar Gogoi, Rochharzela, Surabuddin Mollick
- Forwards: Idrissa Sylla, Kwesi Appiah, Lalkhawpuimawia, VP Suhair
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1)
Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar, Surabuddin Mollick, Khassa Camara/Lalrempuia Fanai, Britto PM/Ninthoi Meetei, Federico Gallego, Luis Machado/Ninthoi Meetei, Idrissa Sylla
Possible league table finish: 11th