NorthEast United FC- An overview

NorthEast United FC’s first year in the Indian Super League was scarcely believable.

The Guwahati franchise were blessed with the tournament’s most passionate fans — rivalled only by Kerala Blasters — and was the best supported team wherever they went. In fact, sometimes they enjoyed more support than the home side, thanks to the presence of away fans.

But, despite all the support, NorthEast United FC finished at the bottom of the league ladder last season. It was a sad way to end the league after they  had shown promise early into the competition. That disappointment lingered for some time and it was no surprise that owner John Abraham, who wears his passion for football on his sleeve, decided to turn things around.

So, can NorthEast turn the tables?

“The pre-season training in South Africa was good. The team got to know each other well and we are now ready for the season. We can become champions,” said the team’s marquee player Simao Sabrosa.

For a team that finished last in the inaugural edition, finishing on top a year later will be the mother of all comebacks in sport. It’s not far-fetched, too. After all, last season they finished just four points adrift of the title and even had a remarkable 3-0 victory over star-studded Chennaiyin FC.

And in Cesar Farias, the 42-year-old Venezuelan manager, they have someone who can get the best out of this young squad. Farias, after all, is the man who guided Venezuela to the semifinals of the Copa America in 2011 and having had a good look at the players for three weeks in South Africa, he believes his team has enough potential to make everyone sit up and take notice.

“We did well in South Africa during pre-season. The facilities were good and we had some productive matches too. It’s been good going so far,” said Farias.

NorthEast retained only two of their foreign players — Miguel Garcia and Kondwani Mtonga — but made some interesting additions to their team, including roping in French centre-half Cedric Hengbart (Kerala Blasters), Gennaro Bracigliano (Chennaiyin FC) and Bruno Arias (Delhi Dynamos). They trio know what to expect from the ISL but whether they will impact the team significantly remains to be seen.

The new players though are impressive. Players like former Newcastle United and Fulham striker Diomansy Kamara, Ghanaian Francis Dadzie and River Plate youth product Nicolas Velez can provide fresh impetus to NorthEast’s challenge.

From among the Indian players, five have been retained but it’s the capture of talented Manipuri winger Seityasen Singh at the auction for Rs 56 lakh that will give Farias, and assistant coach Santosh Kashyap, more flexibility. After somewhat disappointing individual spells last season, Sanju Pradhan (Atletico de Kolkata and Salgaocar FC) and Holicharan Narzary (FC Goa and Dempo SC) have a huge point to prove..

NorthEast took time to warm up to the ISL challenge last season. This time around, with new additions and high benchmarks, trust NorthEast to rouse themselves into action.

TEAM
Gennaro Bracigliano, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Rehenesh T.P, Cedric Hengbart, Miguel Garcia, Marlangki Suting, Aiborlang Khongjee, Yumnam Raju, Zohmingliana Ralte, Reagan Singh, Robin Gurung, Simao Sabrosa (marquee player), Silas, Kondwani Mtonga, Bruno Herrero Arias, Sanju Pradhan, Boithang Haokip, Seityasen Singh, Siam Hangal, Alan Deory, Diomansy Kamara, Boubacar Sanogo, Nicolas Velez, Holicharan Narzary, Francis Dadzie

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