NorthEast United FC's surge under the stewardship of Khalid Jamil continued as they upset ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1 in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 on Tuesday.
Portuguese attacker Luis Machado put NorthEast ahead at the hour-mark before Roy Krishna equalised for ATK Mohun Bagan 12 minutes later.
Highlanders captain Federico Gallego then stepped up with a superb late goal to seal the three points from NorthEast United and subject Antonio Lopez Habas' mighty ATK Mohun Bagan team to what was only their third loss this campaign.
After going winless in seven matches, NorthEast had parted ways with Spanish head coach Gerard Nus and appointed Khalid Jamil as the interim head coach.
Jamil's arrival has been a breath of fresh air for the Highlanders, who have now won two matches on the bounce with the 43-year-old in charge. They beat Jamshedpur FC by a similar margin in Jamil's first match at the helm.
Interestingly, Khalid Jamil's wins came against Owen Coyle and Antonio Lopez Habas - two coaches who faced off in the final last season and are regarded highly in the ISL ecosystem.
In a tournament where teams heavily favour foreign coaches, Jamil's victories make a strong case for providing Indian coaches with more chances.
Khalid Jamil, though, diverted the credit for the win to his players and support staff.
“It's not about me. It's about the players. I only motivated them and they played their natural game. That's it," Jamil said during the post-match press conference.
“The good result is all because of the players and everyone else involved with the team," he added.
The back-to-back wins also brought NorthEast United level on points with fourth-placed Hyderabad FC and got them right back into the race to qualify for the ISL playoff stages - a proposition which looked bleak even a few days back before Jamil took charge.
The Indian coach, however, isn't ready to look too far ahead just yet.
“We are not thinking about the table. We're thinking about the next game. Then after two-three matches, we'll see. We are not taking any team lightly, especially since we play against a very good team (Mumbai City FC) next. We'll go match by match,” Jamil concluded.
NorthEast United’s next test against table-toppers Mumbai City FC is on January 30.
Lead photo: ISL Media