NEUFC interim head coach Khalid Jamil

Whatever he touches it seems to be converted into gold. It’s the NorthEast United FC’s (NEUFC) interim head coach Khalid Jamil – who has proved it a number of times.

The former India midfielder has a special attachment when it comes to football in the northeast. In the 2016-17 I-League season, Jamil took over the reins of Aizawl FC, a team that was supposed to be relegated the previous season but due to the withdrawal of Goan teams, it got reinstated.

The team went on to create history by becoming the first NE team to win the championship, under the guidance of Jamil.

Now, he has guided the NEUFC to the semifinals in the Indian Super League (ISL) after finishing third in the group stage. He is the first Indian coach to do so. Now, the Guwahati-based side will face ATK Mohun Bagan in the semis.

Jamil, an AFC Pro licence holder, has coached several teams, including the big guns like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, he seems to be more successful with the northeastern sides.

But a humble Jamil never takes the credit, he would rather say it’s the players for whom, he becomes successful.

“It is not that I have done anything special with these boys. In the northeast, the local boys are very hard working. They give their 100 percent for the team. Also, the team combination has been very good with the right mix of foreign and local players,” Jamil was quoted as saying in an interview by IANS.

“It feels good when as an Indian coach you become successful,” Jamil said, adding that it is a stop-gap arrangement and he has to wait and see how things shape up.

“See, this is a stop-gap arrangement. We have been able to reach the last four stage. We still have a long way to go. Yes, it is good that we have been able to reach thus far,” Jamil said, who took over as head coach of NEUFC midway into the league after Spaniard coach Gerard Nus stepped down. And he hasn’t lost a match ever since.

Jamil is of the opinion that given an opportunity, Indian coaches can compete with foreign coaches.

“Foreign coaches are good, no doubt. But then, Indian coaches should also be given an opportunity to showcase their talent. However, I will repeat that this time, it is a stop-gap arrangement. Will wait and watch for the next edition of the competition,” Jamil opined.

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