NorthEast United have won once in their last seven Indian Super League (ISL) games this season. After a bright start to their campaign, the Highlanders are struggling for consistency and now find themselves sixth on the table.
Coach Gerard Nus was asked if his team are looking to strengthen their squad in the January transfer market as the ISL enters its midway mark.
“We are a club that is always looking to improve and obviously, in terms of movements in the market, we are with our eyes and ears open because we always want to be a competitive team. For whatever the players need to move, we have to analyse and consider with the coaching staff and management,” said Nus.
Ghanaian striker Kwesi Appiah has picked up an injury since their last match against Odisha FC on December 22nd 2020. Although it is highly unlikely that the striker would feature again this season for the northeastern side, Nus remained optimistic.
“We are looking to get him ready as soon as possible. We are discussing everything with the medical department and our players are our priority. So, we want to do everything in our hands to make him ready for the next games. We know it’s going to be a lot of games coming and it may be hard to be 100 percent fit at times but we have to all work in that direction,” stated Nus.
On Sunday, the going will get tougher for NorthEast United as they will be up against ATK Mohun Bagan. The Kolkata outfit have the joint-best defensive record this season with just three goals conceded and have an in-form Roy Krishna waiting to pry on defensive errors. Nus believes that since ATK Mohun Bagan retained the core of the side from last season, it has helped them acclimatize better as opposed to those teams who have had wholesale changes to their squads.
“Regarding tomorrow’s game, we know that it is going to be very tough. They are one of hardest teams to play against, no doubt about it. If you see the table, you can see why. No matter what, they will be at the top all this season because they have got amazing players. They retained many players that they got in the squad and that obviously helps in a short tournament like this,” reasoned Nus.
The Spaniard promised that his team will surely give a good account of themselves and would be keen to spoil the miserly defensive record of ATK Mohun Bagan.
“No matter how well we prepare, they are going to be a really tough side that has lost only one game. It’s going to be difficult. They only conceded three goals and if you concede only three goals from eight games, you know that they are doing a lot of good things. We are going to be ready and would like to prove those statistics wrong by increasing the number of goals conceded by them,” said the former Liverpool FC academy coach.
Nus highlighted that NorthEast are the only team in the competition who have five different goalscorers. He also pointed that he has a squad full of fighters, who play in an organised fashion – both offensively and defensively.
“I think that we are a well organised team and a team that fights for every single ball. In the last game (against Odisha FC), we were capable of making a record 18 attempts. That is obviously something that we need to feel proud of as no other ISL team has achieved that so far.
“On the offensive side of our game, we want to be consistently creative and keep our structure defensively because if we do both things then we will get what we deserve and more points.
“As I said, we are the top team in creating chances and we should get a trophy for this. We are also the first team in terms of number of goalscorers. We have five players who have scored goals for NorthEast United,” he focussed on the positives.
Nus reiterated that his team should have picked up full points from their match against Odisha FC. He also spoke on how his team will have to put their best foot forward in order to pick up three points this Sunday.
“I think the Odisha game (2-2 draw) was an excellent answer after a (1-0) defeat against Jamshedpur. We have created the most chances in the ISL so far and that shows our answer. We are a team who focus on three points and we deserved three points. That is history and our commitment and determination is going to be even more because we are playing a side that is on the top of the ladder but at the same time, we respect them a lot. We know how good they are and we will need to be at our best to get full points,” Nus pointed.
Ashutosh Mehta, who has been in fine run of form this season, stated that his ambition is to win the ISL with NorthEast United.
“In football, the most important game is the next game. So our main focus is on ATK Mohun Bagan but it’s important to take it step-by-step. Of course, I want to win the ISL with NorthEast United but we have to go step-by-step. They have good players for sure. ATK Mohun Bagan are tactically a very good team and physically very strong,” said the former Mohun Bagan player.