NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) is a football club which competes in the premier competition of Indian football - Indian Super League (ISL). It was a historic moment in Indian football as NorthEast United FC became the first team in the world to have a representation by region instead of a city. The club represents the eight states of India - Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. The region is considered as the epicentre of footballing talent in the country.
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Based in Guwahati, Assam, the franchise is owned and operated by Bollywood actor John Abraham, making it the only ISL club not owned by any company or corporation. They play their home matches at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati.
Nicknamed as ‘The Highlanders’, the team is coached by the newly appointed manager Gerard Nus for the 2020-21 ISL season, and is also currently the youngest manager in the league. The team is flanked by a very dedicated group of supporters, officially named as the Highlander Brigade and remains an excited bunch of people in a football crazy region. With their support for Indian football in general, along with the other fan clubs of the country, they play a pivotal role in building the footballing fan culture of the nation.
The logo of the team is a crest featured with eight stars at the top representing each state of the region. The crest consists of red, black and white applications, with the club name written in bold letters between the main crest and the stars.
In the third season of ISL, the crest was designed in gold but was changed back to the original color after the end of the season. The original crest, along with red and white is currently used by the club.
Northeast United FC’s performance has been disappointing so far in the ISL. Although the team recently qualified for the playoffs (in the 2018-19 season), it has finished bottom of the table twice. The 2017-18 ISL season was quite a disaster for the club as along with ending at the bottom of the table, they also had the worst crowd turnout in the league. They managed to win only 3 matches and score 12 points, being the lowest for the season.
By the end of the 2015 season, the club entered the top-four for semi-finals but lost their position to Chennaiyin FC, who defeated Pune City to gain 3 points and secure the spot. The club again got a chance to enter the top-four for semi-finals in the 2016 season but lost to Kerala Blasters, missing their semi-final chance. The club scored 14 goals and conceded 14 goals in that season. The team was also close to making the final in the 2018-19 season, but lost 4-2 on aggregate to Bengaluru FC in the playoff semi-final.
In their debut season, the team did not make the end-of-season play-offs, and finished in last place among the eight teams. ISL 2017 proved to be the nightmare season which ended in a eight long match losing streak where they drew one match and lost all the other. They finished the season at the last position. The 2019-20 season was also one to forget, where the team finished the regular season in a lowly ninth position.
Major Players for ISL 2020
NorthEast United FC have made some shrewd acquisitions for the upcoming season. Winger Luis Machado of Portugal will add quality to the attack, while old heads like Federico Gallego will ensure that the standards are kept high. Defender Dylan Fox of Australia and ex Mohun Bagan player Gurjinder Kumar will be key in the backline.
Watch out in particular for Ghanain forward Kwesi Appiah, who will be a darkhorse among the rest of the forwards this season.
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