Experienced Indian full-back Ashutosh Mehta has credited coach Khalid Jamil for NorthEast United FC’s success in the Indian Super League, saying he installed an elite mentality in the players and moulded them into champions.
Jamil has worked his magic ever since taking over the reins of NorthEast United FC from Gerard Nus, guiding them into the playoffs, only the second time in the club’s history.
“There is not much of a difference between Indian players. What sets them apart is the mentality ... this season at NorthEast United, players have developed an elite mentality. All the credit goes to Khalid Bhai. He has moulded the team into champions,” Mehta told ISL media.
“In Indian football, there are only a handful of individuals who have been able to extract the real potential of young Indian footballers; Khalid Bhai is one such coach who gives us the liberty to express ourselves fearlessly.”
A former India international in his playing days, Jamil has remained unbeaten ever since taking charge after Spanish coach Gerard Nus was sacked in the first week of January.
The Guwahati-based side drew 1-1 with ATK Mohun Bagan in the first leg of their semi-final on Saturday and a win in the second leg on Tuesday will hand them a place in the final.
Going into the semis, the club achieved their best-ever League stage finish in ISL, ending third with 33 points from 20 games. Out of the 8 wins, 6 came in their final nine games. The team drew the other three games.
“Khalid Bhai told be organised at the back and in the final third, express yourself and if anything goes wrong, I will take the blame,” said Mehta, who was recently called up for India’s national team camp for the two Fifa friendlies later this month.
“Those words when he took charge ahead of the Jamshedpur game still resonates in everyone’s ears and look, we are into the playoffs, still unbeaten. He is a top man-manager.”