NorthEast United FC head coach Khalid Jamil | Photo: ISL

Khalid Jamil became the first Indian to be appointed as the head coach of an Indian Super League (ISL) side as NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) has named the former India midfielder for the club’s top post.

The announcement came just ahead of the 2021-22 season.

After a poor show last season, NEUFC removed their then head coach Gerard Nus in January. Jamil, who was with the team as the assistant coach, stepped in on an interim basis and did his job brilliantly.

At that time, there was not much expectation from Jamil but against all odds, the 44-year-old marshalled his troops with great skills, and the result was that the Highlanders qualified for the ISL semifinals for the second time in their history.

Khalid Jamil oversaw NEUFC’s nine-match unbeaten run with morale-boosting victories over eventual champions Mumbai City FC and finalists ATK Mohun Bagan before going down to the Mariners in the two-legged semifinals.

Born in Kuwait to Indian parents, Jamil was a midfielder in his playing days and represented clubs like Mahindra United, Air India and Mumbai FC. He also played quite a few matches for the Indian national team. He joined NorthEast United FC as an assistant coach ahead of the 2019-20 season.

It was Khalid Jamil under whom Aizawl FC lifted the I-League in 2017.

Since their semifinal defeat in March early this year, the Highlanders have signed many new names. So far as many as 10 new arrivals have come to pass at the club. These are Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha, Laldanmawia Ralte, Sehnaj Singh, Tondonba Singh, Joe Zoherliana, Hernan Santana, William Lalnunfela, Mohamed Irshad, Jestin George and Mathias Coureur.

The Highlanders kick off their 2021-22 ISL campaign on November 20 against 2018-19 champions Bengaluru FC at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa.

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