July 29, 2021

The Khalid Jamil Impact? Ashutosh Mehta, Federico Gallego starred in NorthEast United’s convincing display

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NorthEast United delivered a fine display to defeat Jamshedpur on Sunday…

The 11 players that took the field for NorthEast United against Jamshedpur had a single objective – a win.

They had gone seven games without a win and that run had cost Gerard Nus his job as head coach. The players needed to step up and they needed to find motivation from somewhere. 

Enter Khalid Jamil. The experienced Indian coach, known for scripting history with the I-League-winning Aizawl years ago, seemed to have given the players a booster dose of motivation. The Highlanders delivered a solid performance on the field and defeated Jamshedpur 2-1 to end their winless run. 

The Highlanders had the intent and desire to be aggressive on the field right from the off. Federico Gallego was the boss in the centre of the park and his influential display and technical quality allowed the Highlanders to be always one step ahead of the Men of Steel. He was the deserved man of the match, having assisted both his team’s goals.

Not only did the Jamshedpur attack struggle to break the gritty NorthEast defence, individual errors and defensive lapses cost them twice. 

Ashutosh Mehta showed upcoming footballers how to attack a corner-kick and head the ball into the net. He rushed to the near post to meet Gallego’s inswinging corner-kick delivery and sent a powerful header into the net past TP Rehenesh to break the deadlock. 

Isaac Vanmalsawma gave the ball away cheaply and allowed Gallego to release debutant Deshorn Brown into plenty of space in behind the Jamshedpur defence to make it 2-0 in the second half. 

Brown, who said he felt ‘restricted’ at his former club Bengaluru in an interview he gave to Star Sports after the game, kicked off his stint at his new club in style. He came off the bench, latched onto a through-ball, entered the box and neatly slotted past a hapless Rehenesh to double his team’s advantage. Whatever Idrissa Sylla has struggled to do in recent games, Brown showed that he can get it done.

Jamshedpur lacked desire and couldn’t match the Highlanders’ intensity. They were up against an opponent who just needed to win the game more. Nerijus Valskis, who has scored eight out of the team’s total of 13 goals this season, had an off-day in front of goal. Peter Hartley headed in his first goal in the ISL but it was nothing more than a consolation at the end of a lacklustre performance. 

This was Jamshedpur’s third game in eight days and also their third consecutive defeat. Their last victory came against Bengaluru FC on December 28th, 2020 and following a break of about 12 days, they seem to have lost their way instead.

As the interim coach, Jamil is off to a good start. They needed to win a game and they have now done that. NorthEast United now need to kick on and string a few wins together.