While Deshorn Brown found his form back, Gallego rediscovered himself since Khalid Jamil took over as the Highlanders’ head coach…
When Khalid Jamil took charge as NorthEast United’s interim head coach, the Highlanders were placed at the middle of the league table and making it to the play-offs looked like a distant dream.
They were off to a strong start under former coach Gerard Nus but their form fizzled out within the first four matches of the season. A number of draws and defeats saw NorthEast United faltering on the league table and that prompted the management to part ways with the Spanish coach and in came the former I-League winning manager. They had not managed to win in seven games before Jamil took over.
Along with Jamil’s inclusion, the management also made a change to their squad. With Ghanaian forward Kwesi Appiah ruled out of the season due to an injury, NorthEast United replaced him with Deshorn Brown who terminated his contract with Bengaluru FC to join the Highlanders in the January window.
The Jamaican forward struggled for game time at Bengaluru and he failed to score a single goal in the 10 matches he played at the Blues this season. Brown’s signing proved to be a major gamble but Jamil never complained. Instead, he decided to go to battle with the squad that he had.
The very first match after Jamil took charge, NorthEast United beat Jamshedpur FC 2-1 with Deshorn Brown scoring on his debut. NorthEast then won their next two ties against league leaders ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City. Brown scored a quick brace early in the game against Mumbai which allowed his team to pick up a convincing win over the eventual league winners.
At the end of the league stage, Brown has scored five goals in nine matches and has shown that with the right guidance, he can do wonders. Brown picking up his form kind of set the tone for the Highlanders’ comeback. In fact, since the Jamaican joined, the club is yet to lose a game.
Along with Deshorn Brown, another player who has come into the limelight again is Uruguayan midfielder, Federico Gallego. Gallego has been a loyal servant to the club for the last three seasons. After a terrific first season, he suffered an injury which saw him sidelined for much of the second season. He had looked rusty and not at his best in the early part of this season too.
He did have some fitness concerns too but he has shaken them off and seemed back to his brilliant best under Jamil.
Under Nus, the attacking midfielder had appeared in seven matches out of which he had started in five but he wasn’t able to impact the games. But under Jamil, he kind of rediscovered himself and became a very crucial player.
Under the Indian coach, the Uruguayan played six out of nine matches. Also, three out of his four goals this season came since Jamil took charge of the team. He scored once in the win over ATK Mohun Bagan and netted twice against FC Goa and helped his team to hold the Gaurs to an exciting 2-2 draw.
In the attack, Jamil has efficiently utilised Gallego, Brown and Luis Machado and that is what has inspired the club’s massive comeback this season. In these three players and VP Suhair, the Highlanders have one of the most potent attacks among the teams in the play-offs.