Marco Balbul

The story remains the same for NorthEast United FC as its “new coach” Marco Balbul has now left the club mid-season.

The Israeli football manager, who joined the Highlanders before the start of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season, could not manage to guide his team to a single win in 8 matches – two of which he had to sit out as he was “sent off” by the referee.

Marco Balbul’s trouble started from the very beginning as the set of players failed to click as a team. Lack of pre-season training was one of the major factors as his team went on to pile on the miseries with each defeat.

Nigerian forward Sylvester Igboun’s departure from the team after just two matches, left the coach looking for cover as he struggled to get the results that the fans expected.

Lacklustre attitude of the NorthEast United FC management during the team selection and most importantly, planning before the league added to their non-performance. While other teams tried to utilize the Durand Cup, which was played right before the ISL season, as a pre-season and give their players a chance to bond, the Highlanders preferred to call them into action only during the league – thus missing a brilliant opportunity to get them ready for the competitive league. The NorthEast United FC management instead made some of their main Indian contingent watch the Division C players from the stands during the Durand Cup!

Players and coaches leaving the Guwahati-based NorthEast United mid-season isn’t “shocking news” anymore for the fans as the management has seen such moves every season.

On December 8, right after announcing the parting of ways with coach Marco Balbul, NorthEast United FC announced their new head coach – Vincenzo Alberto Annese.

Italian coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese is a well-known personality in Indian football, having led Gokulam Kerala FC to back-to-back I-League championships in 2020 and 22. They were the first Indian club to accomplish this feat. The team also competed in the AFC Cup, where they were eliminated in the group stages. In June, he parted ways with Gokulam Kerala FC.

It will be interesting to see how Annese steers NorthEast United in the remaining matches of the league, who actually needs a big infusion in their playing squad, and most importantly in their off-field management.

NorthEast United are currently sitting at the bottom of the ISL table with zero wins – and not even a draw – from 8 matches. The team has scored on four occasions and conceded 18 goals till the filing of this report!

Their next match is against Chennaiyin FC at Sarusajai Stadium in Guwahati on December 10.

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About Jayanta Deka


Jayanta Deka is a Guwahati-based journalist with over a decade of experience in journalism. Tracking new media, technology, startups and politics interest him. He can be reached through [email protected]


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