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ISL 2023-24: We're lucky to have Parthib Gogoi, says NorthEast United FC's coach after draw against Punjab FC

NorthEast United FC's head coach, Juan Pedro Benali, expresses satisfaction with his team's performance in their first away match of the ISL 2023-24 season, highlighting the emergence of talent and tactical considerations.

football ISL 2023-24: We're lucky to have Parthib Gogoi, says NorthEast United FC's coach after draw against Punjab FC snt
First Published Oct 7, 2023, 12:37 PM IST

NorthEast United FC head coach, Juan Pedro Benali, expressed his contentment with his team securing a point in their inaugural away match of the 2023-24 Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season, held at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday. The emerging talent for NorthEast United FC, Parthib Gogoi, achieved an impressive 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 closing moments of the first half, gave his team the lead.

Nevertheless, Punjab FC managed to equalize when Melroy Melwin Assisi capitalized on a moment of miscommunication among NorthEast United FC's defenders, following Juan Mera's corner kick. The match witnessed both teams striving for a decisive goal, ultimately concluding with the spoils shared.

Reflecting on the match, Benali acknowledged the challenge posed by Punjab FC's young and energetic team. He pointed out that while his team had numerous opportunities, they needed to focus on consistency and avoid lapses in concentration.

Benali stated during the post-match press conference, "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."

He also commended Gogoi's contributions but emphasized the importance of the young player staying grounded and dedicated to his improvement.

Regarding having a talent like Parthib in his squad, Benali remarked, "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."

Responding to inquiries about the effectiveness of using Albiach as his Number 9, Benali revealed his tactical approach and preference for flexibility in his forward line. He explained that this strategy aimed to exploit the width of the pitch to overcome the sturdy Punjab FC defense.

"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 elaborated.

Benali concluded the press conference by sharing his vision for long-term success in the league, emphasizing hard work, belief, and dedication as the essential attributes for his team to achieve their goals. He said, "Work, work, and work. Believe in yourself. And one more thing: work. That's it."

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