NorthEast United are set to embark on a new mission under the supervision of their new head coach Juan Pedro Benali. The Spanish tactician has a lot of coaching experience in different continents and will look to work his magic with the Highlanders. The Guwahati-based outfit has finished at the bottom for the last two seasons and have been majorly directionless.
They reached the playoffs last time in the 2020-21 season under the tutelage of then head coach Khalid Jamil.
However, the management is looking for some stability and that has forced them to appoint Mandar Tamhane as their new CEO. Tamhane was previously with Bengaluru FC and was pivotal in their success over the years. It was after his appointment that the club appointed Benali, who has kept an eye on Indian football due to his peers.
It is a challenging project that will test the Spaniard’s experience in football from all over the world. However, he is confident that together with the support of the fans, he will build a strong team that will force the fans to trust in their team and also be proud.
“After the meeting with owner John Abraham and CEO Mandar Tamhane, I felt that they are the best people I can work with in India. The project is to try to build a solid team that makes the fans trust their team and be proud. We discussed all the points and we have the same idea to make NEUFC one of the important teams in India,” Benali told in an interview with KhelNow.
It was a forgettable 2022-23 season for the Highlanders as they finished last but more than that it was humiliating for them to finish with just a win, two draws and 17 losses in a 20-game season. The team saw managerial changes in between the season but the results remain the same.
Benali is someone who has a lot of experience and he is focused on rebuilding the team and unlearning things and then developing a new identity under the Spaniard along with the help of Mandar Tamhane. “As I said we need to rebuild the team and try not to make the same mistakes done in the past. When Mandar joined the club, I knew if I take part with him in this project, a new era will start. As I told you before, our plan is to establish a method to bring the team to the best performance possible,” Benali highlighted.
Benali has shared that he knows players and coaches from his native land who have featured in the ISL in the past, while some are still here plying their trade. Noah Saddaoui, Mourtada Fall, and newly-appointed Odisha FC head coach, Sergio Lobera know Benali personally.
He revealed that he had many questions when he got the offer but his problems were cleared by his peers who have been in the league for some time now. “Of course. Before taking the decision I had many questions but thanks to the explanation of many professionals who knew the Hero ISL better than me. That made me be very positive about this challenge. And also thanks to John Abraham and Mandar Tamhane, they cleared all the doubts I could have,” he concluded.
NorthEast United finished at the top of the Group D in the Super Cup, proving that the team has the potential but they lack cohesion and direction, something they expect from their new tactician Juan Pedro Benali. NorthEast Untied lost to the eventual winners, Odisha FC in the semifinals.