Indian Super League (ISL) outfit NorthEast United FC have been one of the dark horses in the competition. In recent years, the Highlanders have managed to qualify for the playoffs in the 2020-21 season. Although they were off to a turbulent start initially, the Highlanders found their rhythm under interim head coach Khalid Jamil.
The following season, Jamil was appointed as the head coach for the side for ISL 2021-22. However, unlike their previous, the Highlanders struggled to meet the high standards set by the other teams and finished 10th in the table.
To fix things going into the 2022-23 season, the club's technical director Ohad Efrat lured Israeli football coach Marco Balbul to lead the side in the ISL. The former Maccabi Haifa boss has made significant additions to his team with a view to re-establishing a good position in the league.
In this article, we will take a look at NorthEast United FC's predicted starting XI for the new league season.
Goalkeeper: Arindam Bhattacharya
Despite a poor 2021-22 season, Arindam Bhattacharya is still considered one of the best goalkeepers in the league. Since the former ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal custodian was a free agent, the Highlanders wasted no time in securing the services of the experienced goalkeeper for the upcoming season. His place in the starting XI for the Highlanders is undisputed.
Right back: Provat Lakra
A strong tackler and a disciplined soldier in his club's backline, Provat Lakra has proved his mettle season after season. Even during rough patches, Lakra has managed to remain one of the standout performers in the red colors of the club.
Center back: Aaron Evans
The newly recruited centre-back is a tough customer in the NorthEast United FC backline, much like his coach's persona. The Australian defender will bring in solidity in the backline and could turn out to be an excellent signing going forward.
Center back: Gaurav Bora
The former Odisha FC centre-back is a decent signing, given his record over the last few seasons. The local boy is a ball-playing defender and could aid Balbul's ideas in the upcoming season.
Left Back: Gurjinder Kumar
Gurjinder Kumar is not one of those players who can grab the audience's attention with his performances. But the former Mohun Bagan defender is a silent work horse whose consistency makes him a regular in the NorthEast United FC first team.
Central defensive midfielder: Jon Gaztanaga
The Spanish defensive midfielder is known for aiding his team's centre-backs during the build phase. He is also well known for his ability to progress the ball through the thirds and assist his teammates in creating more goal scoring opportunities.
Central midfielder: Romain Philippoteaux
The French midfielder can steadily become one of the best foreign additions to the NorthEast United FC squad in the 2022-23 season. With his experience of playing across multiple clubs in France, Philippoteaux can help Marco Balbul in bringing NorthEast United FC out into the spotlight.
Central midfielder: Emil Benny
Emil Benny was one of the best midfielders in the I-League in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons with Gokulam Kerala. The hard-working young midfielder is very efficient in carrying the ball out of dangerous situations and turning them into positive chances for his team.
Right forward: Rochharzela
Roccharzela's consistency has played a big role in his selection in the club's starting eleven. The former Aizawl FC man was decisive in the final third and was able to pick out his teammates inside the crowded boxes.
Center forward: Matt Derbyshire
Derbyshire's experience could act as a trump card for the Highlanders. An effective goal machine, Derbyshire's experience across various clubs in Europe can help NorthEast United FC in racking up the number of goals scored.
Left forward: Jithin Madathil Subran
The former Gokulam Kerala FC star is expected to bring his pace to the side and add to Balbul's attacking department for the 2022-23 season. His balance and ball control can turn out to be essential to the Israeli tactician's plans.