NorthEast United FC head coach Gerard Nus is pleased with his side’s 1-0 win over Mumbai City in their opening game of the Indian Super League (ISL) on Saturday. Taking the charge of NorthEast United for the first time, the coach had every reason to celebrate the win after an underwhelming season in 2019-20 for the Highlanders with just two victories in 18 games. “I think we played a competitive game. We knew what to expect from a brilliant side like Mumbai City and we followed our plan and did a fantastic job. I am so pleased with all my players. Even the guys that didn’t get much time in the game or the ones who didn’t get a single minute but they were pushing the team from the bench. So, I am pleased with the team, this is the start of what I believe is a serious season for NorthEast United and obviously, I am happy but need to keep improving at the same time,” ISL’s official website quoted Nus as saying.
The complexion of the match totally changed after Mumbai’s Ahmed Jahouh picked up a red card two minutes from the first half for a lunging tackle from behind. And then Kwesi Appiah added insult to injury from the spot four minutes into the second half after a Rowllin Borges violation.
“Obviously, penalties and sending-offs are moments in any football game. They make things go one way or another but in the end, they are just moments. If you relax then a team like Mumbai City will punish you so we had the right mentality, were switched on all the time and were very strong. So, I’m very happy about it,” Nus said.
The 35-year-old Spaniard also emphasised the importance of the win and said, “When you start a new season, it’s always nice to start with three points. But even if the result was not in our favour, you can see that there is a clear pattern of play and I have said that since day one. We are going to be a team that fights, we will never give up and that’s what we saw today and also in the friendly matches we had before the season started.”
Meanwhile, Mumbai City head coach Sergio Lobera agreed the red card went a long way towards deciding the outcome of the match.
“It was a big problem for us today because I believe that the red card changed the game and playing with 10 men and missing a big player like Jahouh was a big problem for us. But I have 28 players for the next game and I am very happy with the squad, so I’m not going to make any excuses for the next game after losing just one player,” he said.
When asked if Mumbai were over-enthusiastic to play Lobera’s brand of football in the first half that is expansive in nature, the Mumbai City head coach said: “We tried to implement a new style of play but it’s not easy. Four players played with me before but the rest of the players are new to my system. I am still happy but we need to improve and it’s important to improve by winning. Today it wasn’t possible but we need to put all our focus into the next game.”
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