Khalid Jamil – The Game Changer for NorthEast United FC

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NorthEast United FC were having a nightmare run under Gerad Nus. The Spanish head coach was finally shown the door after going seven games without a win. This marked the rise of NorthEast United FC as the new interim head coach Khalid Jamil did the unthinkable by steering the Highlanders to the Indian Super League (ISL) play-offs.

Since Khalid Jamil took over, the Highlanders had an unbeaten run before losing to former ISL champions ATK Mohun Bagan in the semi-final.

“Indian coaches are as capable (as others). If any coach is given the confidence by the management, results can happen because then it is up to the person to deliver.” – Khalid Jamil, NorthEast United FC’s interim head coach.


NorthEast United had reached the semi-finals just once in the last six seasons, out of which they were at the bottom of the table three times. For Jamil to turn the underdogs into title contenders is nothing short of a miracle. This also meant that Jamil was the first Indian coach under whom an ISL team reached the play-offs.

On the 26th of February Khalid Jamil made history when NorthEast United FC outclassed Kerala Blasters in a 2-0 win to seal their place in the top four. The 43-year-old former I-League Champion became the first Indian coach to not only be in charge of an ISL club for over three matches but also lead them to the play-offs.


What makes Jamil more special is that he is a players’ coach. Former Mumbai FC midfielder Paresh Shivalkar who played under Jamil for three years said, “He knows his Indian players and their skillsets very well and has a knack for bringing out the very best in them. If you see his teams over the years, it’s these Indian players that have got him the results.”

“There is not much of a difference between Indian players. What sets them apart is the mentality … this season at NorthEast United, players have developed an elite mentality. All the credit goes to Khalid Bhai. He has moulded the team into champions,” said the NorthEast United full-back Ashutosh Mehta.


India’s one of the finest homegrown coaches, Khalid Jamil has shown ISL that the nationality of the coach does not matter. Jamil’s success story is a big blow to the mindset that only foreign coaches can bring positive results.

“Foreign coaches are good, no doubt. But then, Indian coaches should also be given opportunity to showcase their talent.” – Khalid Jamil told ISL

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