NorthEast United FC will look to continue their fairy tale run when they take on ATK Mohun Bagan in the first leg of second semifinal of the Indian Super League on Saturday. NorthEast United were written off after their mid-season slump but they produced a stunning turnaround with Khalid Jamil leading them to their second playoffs.
Jamil has remained unbeaten in the nine games, recording six wins and three draws and he will now look to carry on the momentum when his team clashes against ATK Mohun Bagan. “All the players have worked very hard. Because of them, we have reached here. I never think about the nine matches. It’s about right from the first game. The boys have worked hard and I am very proud to be their coach,” Jamil said.
The match will be between two sides with similar approaches. Every time the Highlanders have taken a lead, they have been impossible to beat. They took the lead on 13 occasions this season and won eight, shared points in the rest. Bagan work on similar lines. Having taken the lead 14 times, ATKMB have won 12 and drawn 2. “We are going to play against a good team. ATK Mohun Bagan are a good side. Defensively strong and their attack is strong too. We have to be very careful as the first match is very important,” Jamil said.
Bagan coach Antonio Habas is winless in three first leg ISL semifinals, losing 2 and drawing 1. For ATK Mohun Bagan, the last three games cost them the League Winners Shield. “NorthEast United have had a good ISL season. It’s a very difficult team because they have good players in defence, central midfield and good players in attack,” said Habas.