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We’re lucky to have him: NorthEast coach on Parthib Gogoi

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New Delhi: NorthEast United FC head coach, Juan Pedro Benali, expressed his satisfaction as his team earned a point in their first away match of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday night.

Parthib Gogoi, the emerging talent for NorthEast United FC, achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the first Highlander to score in the opening three consecutive games of an ISL season.

Gogoi’s precise right-footed strike just outside the Punjab FC box in the dying minutes of the first half put his team in the lead.

However, Punjab FC equalised when Melroy Melwin Assisi capitalised on a moment of miscommunication among the NorthEast United FC defenders, following Juan Mera’s corner kick.

The match saw both teams pushing for a winner but ultimately ended in a share of the points.

Reflecting on the match, Benali acknowledged the challenge posed by Punjab FC’s young and energetic team.

He noted that while his team had many opportunities, they needed to work on consistency and avoid lapses in concentration.

“Well, we played against a good young team who runs a lot, who made it hard for us. But we had a lot of chances, like they had some chances. We made only one mistake, they scored. We need to be more consistent in that. Also, the lack of concentration a little bit. But slowly, slowly, we build a team. One point away. Great points. One more to the box and looking forward to the next game,” Benali said in the post-match press conference.

Benali also praised Gogoi’s contributions but emphasised the importance of the young player staying grounded and focused on his improvement.

Sharing his thoughts about having such a talent like Parthib in his squad, Benali stated: “He’s still young, still has time. Don’t put him so high because when he falls down, it’s difficult to put him up again. He’s young, he’s working hard, he’s giving everything. We’re lucky to have him. And he needs to grow slowly, slowly. He needs a lot of experience. He needs to work more. Yes, he scores, but he needs to participate more in the game.”

Addressing questions about the effectiveness of using Albiach as his Number 9, Benali revealed his tactical approach and his preference for his target man to be flexible upfront.

He explained that this strategy aimed to exploit the width of the pitch to overcome the robust Punjab FC defence.

“We know that they have strong defenders. If we had a Number 9, fixed nine, it would be easy for them. It was very important for us to be moving the striker and the offensive midfielder to get the back of their midfielders. And this is what happened. We created that space, and we were looking for that space to create and to enter from the sides. We did it. It worked. And now we will see how to prepare against Kerala (Blasters FC), something different,” he explained.

Benali concluded the press conference by sharing his vision for long-term success in the league, emphasising hard work, belief, and dedication as the key attributes for his team to achieve their goals.

“Work, work, and work. Believe in yourself. And one more thing: work. That’s it,” he concluded.

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