NEUFC looking for a change in fortunes

The young and charismatic Venezuelan Cesar Farias has come on board as the manager, replacing New Zealand’s Ricki Herbert. Farias, who took the Venezuelan national team to new heights during his stint between 2007 and 2013, promises more attractive "happy football".

NorthEast United FC players working hard ahead of ISL Season II.   -  NEUFC

NorthEast United, much to the dismay of their cine-star owner John Abraham, had a disappointing first season, finishing at the bottom of the League table.

The poor showing of the team was in stark contrast to the intensity and passion generated by the fans of the franchisee — 200,296 footfalls were recorded at Guwahati’s Nehru Stadium for the NorthEast’s seven home games. At the onset of the inaugural edition, the team looked balanced with Spanish World Cup star Joan Capdevila leading the charge. While, the defence, marshalled by Capdevila, looked sharp, NorthEast were terribly short of firepower upfront. Overall, the players failed to strike a cohesive chemistry on field.

The management, however, seem to have learnt valuable lessons from the misadventure and have redrafted the cast, replacing both the marquee player and manager. The young and charismatic Venezuelan Cesar Farias has come on board as the manager, replacing New Zealand’s Ricki Herbert. Farias, who took the Venezuelan national team to new heights during his stint between 2007 and 2013, promises more attractive “happy football”.

The side has a new marquee player in Simao Sabrosa — the Portuguese World Cupper — who will be leading the team’s attacking charge. Striking, indeed, was an area of concern, as the team only scored 11 goals in 14 games in the inaugural season. Sabrosa, a veteran, with experience of playing for top European clubs like Benfica, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, can be a big inspiration to the team.

The other attacking options are Senegalese striker Diomansy Kasmara, Boubacar Sanogo of Ivory Coast, Argentine Nicolas Velez and India’s own Holicharan Narzary. The franchise has retained the services of Portuguese defender Miguel Garcia and Zambian midfielder Kondwani Mtonga. The defence will have Frenchman Cedric Hengbart partnering Garcia while Portuguese Silas joins Sabrosa and Mtonga to further strengthen the midriff.

The team management has retained its faith on the north eastern players in domestic recruitment. The arrival of the young Seityasen Singh, Regan Singh and the seasoned Marlangki Suting from Royal Wahingdoh, which finished a creditable third in the I-League, will surely add depth to the squad. Other additions are defender Zohmingliana Ralte (Pune FC), goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte, Siam Hanghal (both Bengaluru FC) and Sanju Pradhan. The club has also retained five Indians — Rehenesh T. P., Aiborlang Khongjee, Robin Gurung, Boithang Haokip and Alen Deroy.

The squad:

Goalkeepers: Gennaro Bracigliano, Lalthuammawia Ralte and Rehenesh T. P.

Defenders: Cedric Hengbart, Miguel Garcia, Marlangki Suting, Aiborlang Khongjee, Yumnam Raju, Zohmingliana Ralte, Reagan Singh and Robin Gurung.

Midfielders: Simao Sabrosa, Silas, Kondwani Mtonga, Bruno Herrero Arias, Sanju Pradhan, Boithang Haokip, Seityasen Singh, Siam Hangal and Alan Deroy.

Forwards: Diomansy Kamara, Boubacar Sanogo, Nicolas Velez, Holicharan Narzary and Francis Dadzie.