One of the tournament favourites

NORTHEAST UNITED FC CO-OWNERS JOHN ABRAHAM (LEFT) AND LARSING MING WITH ASSAM CHIEF MINISTER TARUN GOGOI (CENTRE) DURING THE LAUNCH IN GUWAHATI.-NORTHEAST UNITED FC CO-OWNERS JOHN ABRAHAM (LEFT) AND LARSING MING WITH ASSAM CHIEF MINISTER TARUN GOGOI (CENTRE) DURING THE LAUNCH IN GUWAHATI.

NorthEast United FC combines the intense passion for football, from a region where it has gained its name, and a professional insight to turn this enthusiasm into a winning formula. The team has the patronage of Bollywood star John Abraham, an avowed football fanatic, who is joined by one of the most successful administrators of the region, Larsing Ming of Shillong Lajong FC.

Priding itself in not allowing corporate entrepreneurs for direct patronage, NorthEast United FC is already being dubbed as one of the tournament favourites for retaining the nucleus of players who had turned out for Shillong Lajong FC in the I-League. Added to this is a cast of foreigners carefully gleaned from across the globe. Joan Capdevila, member of the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship title-winning Spanish teams, is arguably the most illustrious buy of the Indian Super League and is the marquee player of NEUFC.

“They have put together a nice squad and the mix of international players and young Indian talent is encouraging me for a new challenge that I am very excited to be part of,” Capdevila says about the team. With the tournament allowing a good number of foreigners in the playing XI, the initial seasons will be more about how the team’s international roster performs.

Apart from Capdevila, NEUFC has overseas defenders in Miguel Garcia (Portugal) and Tomas Josl (Czech Republic). Greek goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas and forwards like Cornell Glen (Trinidad and Tobago), Luis Yanes (Columbia), Koke (Spain) and James Keene (England) are also foreign players to look out for. Indian names like Durga Boro, Seminlen Doungel, Milan Singh and Aiborlang Khongjee are I-League regulars and it remains to be seen how they combine with the international players for the desired result.

Amitabha Das Sharma