NorthEast United FC

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NorthEast United FC is an Indian professional football club based in Guwahati, Assam that competes in the Indian Super League, the top flight of Indian football.[1] The club was founded on 13th April, 2014 during the inaugural season of Indian Super League. NorthEast United represent the 8 states of India known as North East India which consist Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Mizoram.[2]

NorthEast United
NorthEast United FC logo.svg
Full nameNorthEast United Football Club
Nickname(s)The Highlanders
Short nameNEUFC
Founded13 April 2014; 7 years ago (2014-04-13)
GroundIndira Gandhi Athletic Stadium
OwnerJohn Abraham
ManagerKhalid Jamil (Interim)
LeagueIndian Super League
2020–21Indian Super League, 3rd of 11
Playoffs: Semi-finals
WebsiteClub website
Current season
Departments of NorthEast United FC
Football pictogram.svg Football pictogram.svg Football pictogram.svg
Football (Men's) Football (Reserves Men's) Football (Youth Men's)



In early 2014, it was announced that the All India Football Federation, the national federation for football in India, and IMG-Reliance would be accepting bids for ownership of eight of nine selected cities for the upcoming Indian Super League, an eight-team franchise league modeled along the lines of the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.[3] On 13 April 2014, it was announced that the Bollywood actor John Abraham and Shillong Lajong Football Club had won the bidding for the franchise.

On 16 July 2014, the club signed Joan Capdevila, a European Championship and World Cup winning defender with Spain, as its marquee player. He said: "India is a huge country and it should be a privilege for me to be a small part in popularizing this global game here and working with the young talented footballers of North East India".[4]

On 19 August the club hired its first manager, New Zealander Ricki Herbert, who had represented and managed his nation at World Cups.[5]

2014 season: The first seasonEdit

On 13 October 2014, the team won their first ISL match at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, Spaniard Koke scoring the only goal of the game to defeat Kerala Blasters.[6] The team did not make the end-of-season play-offs, finishing in last place among the eight teams.

2015 season: Narrowly missed play-offsEdit

For their second season, NorthEast United signed former Portugal international Simão Sabrosa as their new marquee signing.[7] On 1 July 2015 the team announced their manager for the 2015 season, former Venezuela national coach, César Farías. The team lost all three of their opening matches with Simão absent through injury, but then earned a 2–0 home win over Chennaiyin FC in which the marquee player won and dispatched an added-time penalty kick to open the scoring.[8] The club entered the top-four for semi-finals by the end of the season but lost their position to Chennaiyin, who defeated Pune City to gain 3 points and secure the spot.

2016 season: Nelo Vingada, Velez, Alfaro eraEdit

On 13 May 2016, NorthEast United announced Sérgio Farias as the club's new manager.[9] However, Sérgio Farias joined his former club Suphanburi FC for a second stint forcing NorthEast United to look for a new coach. On July 9, 2016, NorthEast United officially announced Sérgio Farias' exit.[10] On July 23, 2016, NorthEast United announced Nelo Vingada as the club's new manager.[11] The club also appointed Francisco Bruto Da Costa as their Assistant Manager.[12] The club again got a chance to enter the top-four for semi-finals if they defeat Kerala Blasters but lost and hence, losing their semi-final chance. The club scored 14 goals and conceded 14 goals in that season. More than half of the goals (8) were scored by the South American duo Nicholas Velez and Emiliano Alfaro with 3 and 5 goals respectively.

2017—18 season: A forgettable seasonEdit

On 17 July 2017, in hope for a great season NorthEast United signed the young Portuguese manager Joao Carlos Pires de Deus.[13] After playing its preseason games in Antalya, Turkey. The team began its season against the ISL debutants Jamshedpur FC. The game ended in a draw with neither side managing to find the back of the net despite NorthEast playing against a 10 men Jamshedpur in the last 20 minutes.[14] Next they played Chennaiyin FC in Chennai, where they failed to keep the record of never losing in Chennai after losing 3–0.[15] NorthEast witnessed their first win of the season where they defeated Delhi Dynamos 0–2 in the opponent's ground. The first goal of the match came from Marcinho in the 17th minute, when a cross by Halicharan Narzary from the left flank found him unmarked inside the box. The second goal came from the striker Danilo in the 22nd minute, when he pressured the Delhi custodian Albino Gomes and made him make error inside his own box, leaving an open goal for Danilo to score his first and last goal of the season and, 500th goal of the league.[16] It was followed by a 4 match losing streak right after which the Portuguese manager was sacked.[17] The team management brought in the ex-Chelsea boss Avram Grant as a technical advisor who acted as a caretaker manager in the absence of Joao.[18] He was later promoted to Head Coach on 12 January 2018, after the team released an official statement about Joao's sacking.[19] The team won 2 out of the first 3 games under Grant, where they defeated FC Goa 2–1[20] and Chennaiyin FC 3–1[21] at home. Seiminlen Doungel scored the first ever hat-trick for NorthEast United in that match. The team failed to win a single match after that, ending the season in a long 8 match winless streak in which they drew 1 match and lost all other matches. They finished the season at the last position managing to win only 3 matches and scoring 12, which was the lowest for the season. Overall the team didn't perform well enough. It was the worst performance in the season since the club came into existence

On 19 February 2018, AIFF announced the Indian Super Cup as a replacement for the Federation Cup. It will be played between 16 teams, the top 6 teams of ISL and I-League and the remaining 4 will be picked through a qualifier played between the bottom 4 from both league. NorthEast United participated in the Cup Qualifiers for the 4 remaining spots. NorthEast United played their qualifier match against Gokulam Kerala on 15 March 2018 which they lost 2–0 and got eliminated.

2018—19 season: Eelco Schatorrie era, maiden play-offsEdit

Lineup against Bengaluru FC in 2018-19 Indian Super League semi-finals leg 1

2018-19 is the fifth season of the club's existence. The season started with a positive start under coach Eelco Schatorrie with NorthEast United drawing with Goa and two consecutive wins over ATK and defending champions Chennaiyin. Against Chennaiyin, NorthEast United made a thrilling comeback after down 3-1 in 35th minute to 3-3 in first half and winning the match 4-3. After Some thrilling victories against Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyan the club strengthened its way to the playoffs. After playing 17 matches and getting 28 points Northeast United finally qualified for the playoffs with Jamshedpur losing a chance to the playoffs with a draw against Chennaiyan FC and also for Super Cup. They also lost the fewest matches and conceded the fewest goals of any team in the league. They also made a club record of 29 points. Former Nigerian international Bartholomew Ogbeche became the highest goalscorer of the club scoring 12 goals. NorthEast United became a major force in the league driven by the trio of Borges-Ogbeche-Gallego. They defeated Bengaluru in the first leg of semi-finals with 'Boot Jolokia' Mascia scoring in the dying moments in the game. Northeast United lost their second leg against Bengaluru which also saw Federico Gallego getting injured. The aggregate score was 4-2.

In the Super Cup, the team reached quarter-finals after fellow northeastern club NEROCA didn't play the match in round of 16 hence, giving them a walkover. In the quarter-finals, they lost to Chennaiyin by 1-2. After a successful season, the team was 'dismantled'. Head Coach Schattorie and top-scorer Ogbeche moving to Kerala Blasters, Borges moving to Mumbai City.

Fan's Player of the Season (2018—19)
Position Player
Goalkeeper   Pawan Kumar[22]
Defender   Gurwinder Singh[23]
Forward   Panagiotis Triadis
Forward   Bartholomew Ogbeche

2019—20 seasonEdit

2019—20 is the sixth season of the club's existence. The season started well for the club and they managed to stay unbeaten for 6 games and on the top half of the table. But the club failed to carry on the momentum and remained winless for the rest of the season. The club also lost their scoring boots not managing to score in 6 matches out of 7 matches that followed and losing its Marquee striker Asamoah Gyan to an injury in the early half of the season. The head coach Robert Jarni was sacked in the later half of the season and replaced by Assistant Manager and Head of Academy Khalid Jamil. Robert Jarni managed his final match against Jamshedpur which ended in a 3-3 draw. The club failed to reach the play-offs, and were at 9th place at the end of the season.

2020—21 season: Khalid Jamil's era, second play-offsEdit

The club appointed Gerard Nus, a Spanish manager as their head coach and also signed the Mauritanian international Khassa Camara, Ghanaian striker Kwesi Appiah and Belgian defender Benjamin Lambot. The club announced the retention of their star goalkeeper Subashish Roy and some local Indian players. They also retained their Uruguyan midfeilder Federico Gallego. They signed some Indian players including Rocharzella , Lalengmawia , Ashutosh Mehta and Gurjinder Kumar. They signed Luis Machado, Idrissa Sylla and Dylan Fox as their AFC player. The team played their first match of the season against Mumbai City FC and won it by 1-0 as Kwesi Appiah scored a penalty. The club parted ways with coach Gerard Nus after 11 matches in the ISL season.[24] He was replaced by Khalid Jamil as interim head coach. Under Khalid, the club saw a nine match unbeaten run, which also helped in reaching the play-offs for second time in their history.[25] On road to play-off, they also made a ten match unbeaten run, their longest ever. The club drew 1-1 with ATK Mohun Bagan in first leg of semi-final and lost the second leg 1-2, thus ending their campaign with 2-3 on aggregate and 11 game unbeaten run.[26]


Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium during an ISL match of NorthEast United

NorthEast United FC play their home matches at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati. In 2014, to meet FIFA regulations, the stadium was renovated and its capacity was increased from 12,000 to 35,000. Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium hosted the opening ceremony of ISL 2016. NorthEast had the highest attendance on 20 October 2016, when a record attendance of 32,844 turned up to witness the match between NorthEast United and Chennaiyin FC. The capacity was again reduced to 23,850 after the installation of bucket seats for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The stadium saw the lowest attendance in the history of ISL when only 1,121 fans turned up to witness the match played between NorthEast United FC and Kerala Blasters FC on 17 February 2018.[27]

In 2020–21 season, due to COVID-19 pandemic, all the games were played in the state of Goa. In Goa, they played their home games in Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco da Gama.[28]


The unofficial supporters group of the club is the Highlander Brigade.[29][30] The fan club can be traced back to its roots where it was merely a WhatsApp group formed out of a handful of followers of a Facebook page "NorthEast United FC Fans". They not only support NorthEast United but also support the Indian team.

Before the fourth season of the Indian Super League, keeping an eye on the occasion, a major chunk of the group members decided to meet and attempt to do something big. And under the tutelage of key members helming certain responsibilities, the Brigade grew and spread out rapidly.

The Highlander Brigade host football-related events in the city. To ensure that the football culture remains proactive in the city, the brigade plans to indulge in more fan activities in the future as well.[29]

Even after a lackluster fourth season for the club, the Highlander Brigade could be seen cheering them on with the red-white-black flags and banners thumping down the beats in a raging winter cold under the lights. Therefore, they were received fondly by the club and the players.

Highlander Brigade remains an excited bunch of people in a football crazy region and along with the other fan clubs of the country, they form a pivotal part of the umbrella of football culture as fans in India.

Fan parkEdit

NorthEast United organises its fan park in Sarusajai Stadium. It attracts large number of supporters. Several events like music and dance are organised in the fan park.[31][32]


NorthEast United share a rivalry with neighbouring club ATK Mohun Bagan, known as the Eastern Derby. The two clubs represent two football crazy states of India.

Crest and coloursEdit

The crest of NorthEast United FC is featured with 8 stars at the top representing each state of Northeast India. The crest is designed with red, black and white applications, with the club name written in bold letters between the main crest and the stars. The club changed the crest with an entirely gold crest for its third season of ISL. It was changed back to the original color after the end of the season.

Kit evolutionEdit

2015-16, 2018-19

Kit manufacturers and shirt sponsorsEdit

Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor Back sponsor Chest sponsor Sleeve sponsor
2014—15 Adidas HTC Haier Garnier Men
2015—16 Performax AirAsia
2016—17 Payism Yamaha McDowell's No.1, DTDC
2017—18 McDowell's No.1 Jio Garnier Men
2019—20 Federal Bank Stihl JA Entertainment McDowell's No.1, Meghalaya Tourism
2020—present JA Entertainment Guardian Healthcare GNC Parimatch News


Current squadEdit

As of 1 November 2020[33]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   IND Subhasish Roy Chowdhury
3 DF   IND Wayne Vaz
4 DF   IND Provat Lakra
5 DF   IND Gurjinder Kumar
6 MF   MTN Khassa Camara
7 MF   IND Ninthoinganba Meetei
8 MF   IND Imran Khan
10 MF   URU Federico Gallego
11 FW   GUI Idrissa Sylla
15 FW   IND Suhair
16 DF   AUS Dylan Fox
19 DF   BEL Benjamin Lambot
20 FW   POR Luís Machado
23 MF   IND Fanai Lalrempuia
No. Pos. Nation Player
25 DF   IND Nabin Rabha
26 FW   JAM Deshorn Brown
27 FW   IND Lalkhawpuimawia
29 DF   IND Nim Dorjee Tamang
31 GK   IND Gurmeet Singh
33 DF   IND Rakesh Pradhan
43 MF   IND Pragyan Gogoi
44 GK   IND Nikhil Deka
45 MF   IND Lalengmawia
50 MF   IND Britto PM
51 GK   IND Sanjiban Ghosh
54 DF   IND Ponif Vaz
66 DF   IND Mashoor Shereef
77 MF   IND Rochharzela

Out on loanEdit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF   IND Rakesh Pradhan (to   Odisha FC till 31 May 2021)

Other players on contractEdit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
FW   GHA Kwesi Appiah (Injured)

Reserves and Academy playersEdit

Notable former playersEdit

See: List of NorthEast United FC's Notable Former players


NorthEast United is owned by John Abraham, who is an Indian Bollywood actor, producer and former model,[34] and it is the only ISL club that is not owned by any company or corporation.

During his younger days, John had an ambition for playing football for India before becoming an actor. When he got the opportunity for investing in a football club during the formation of ISL, instead of investing in his hometown of Mumbai, he invested in Northeast India, a football hotbed in the country. His wife Priya Runchal is the chairperson of the club.[35]

Current technical staffEdit

Position Name
Head coach   Khalid Jamil
Assistant Coach   Alison Kharsyntiew
Head of Academy   Khalid Jamil[36]
Technical Director   Ohad Efrat
Goalkeeping coach   Asier Rey Santìn
Reserves and U-18 Head Coach   Subham Rabha
Chairperson   Priya Runchal
Team Manager   Shahashad Muhammed
Kit Manager   Ishaan Alsi
Media Manager   Anurag Saikia
Team Doctor   Tanveer Siddiqui
Sports Therapist   Adith KD

Statistics and recordsEdit

Season by seasonEdit

Season Teams Position Pld. W D L GF GA GD Pts. League Top Scorer Goals Manager Super Cup Asian Club Competitions
2014 8 8th 14 3 6 5 11 13 -2 15   Koke 4   Ricki Herbert No Cup DNQ
2015 8 5th 14 6 2 6 18 23 -5 20   Nicolás Vélez 5   César Farías
2016 8 5th 14 5 3 6 14 14 0 18   Emiliano Alfaro 5   Nelo Vingada
2017—18 10 10th 18 3 2 13 12 27 -15 11   Len
4   Avram Grant
  Joao de Deus until 3 January (sacked)
2018—19 10 4th 18 7 8 3 22 18 +4 29   Ogbeche 12   Eelco Schattorie Quarter-finals
2019—20 10 9th 18 2 8 8 16 30 -14 13   Asamoah Gyan 4   Khalid Jamil
  Robert Jarni until 10 February (sacked)
Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
2020—21 11 3rd 20 8 9 3 31 25 +6 33   Luís Machado 7   Khalid Jamil

  Gerard Nus until 13 January (sacked)

TBD AFC Cup Standby teams[Note IND]
  • ^
    India (IND): Since Mumbai City, the 2020–21 Indian Super League regular season premiers, are also the 2020–21 Indian Super League play-offs winners, ATK Mohun Bagan, the 2020–21 Indian Super League regular season runners-up, qualify for the 2022 AFC Cup. If ATK Mohun Bagan win the 2021 AFC Cup, they will qualify for the 2022 AFC Champions League qualifying play-offs. If they advance to the 2022 AFC Champions League group stage, they will not play in the 2022 AFC Cup and will be replaced by Northeast United.
  • RecordsEdit

    As of 10 November 2020

    Team Records

    Source:[37][38]***Stats counted for domestic league only***

    Top goalscorersEdit

    # Name Year Goals
    1   Bartholomew Ogbeche 2018—19 12 (18)
    2   Federico Gallego 2018— 9 (31)
    3   Nicolás Vélez 2015—2016 8 (25)

      Luís Machado

    2020— 7 (17)
    5   Deshorn Brown 2021— 5 (10)
      Emiliano Alfaro 2016 5 (13)
      Seiminlen Doungel 2014, 2017—2018 5 (25)
    6   Asamoah Gyan 2019—220 4 (8)
      Koke 2014 4 (12)
      Marcinho 2017—2018 4 (16)
      Redeem Tlang 2014, 2018—2020 4 (36)
      Rowlin Borges 2015—2019 4 (48)

    Top assistsEdit

    Rank Name Years Assists
      Federico Gallego 2018— 12 (46)
    2   Koke 2014 4 (12)
      Halicharan Narzary 2015—2018 4 (28)
    4   Sanju Pradhan 2015 3 (11)
      Diomansy Kamara 2015 3 (12)
      Martín Cháves 2019—2020 3 (18)
      Nicolás Vélez 2015—2016 3 (25)

    Most appearancesEdit

    # Name Position Years Appearance
    1   Reagan Singh DF 2015—2020 68
    2   Rehenesh TP GK 2014—2019 50
    3   Rowllin Borges MF 2016—2019 48
    4   Federico Gallego MF 2018— 46
    5  Redeem Tlang MF 2014, 2018—2020 36
    6   José David Leudo MF 2018—2020 33
    7   Lalengmawia MF 2019— 32
    8   Subhasish Roy Chowdhury GK 2019- 30
    9  Lalthathanga Khawlhring MF 2018—2020 29
    10   Holicharan Narzary MF 2015—2018 28


    Name Nationality From To
    Ricki Herbert   New Zealand 13 October 2014 20 December 2014
    César Farías   Venezuela 30 June 2015 20 December 2015
    Nelo Vingada   Portugal 23 July 2016 15 May 2017[39]
    João de Deus   Portugal 17 July 2017 3 January 2018
    Avram Grant   Israel 4 January 2018
    12 January 2018
    (Head Coach)
    14 August 2018
    Eelco Schattorie   Netherlands 17 August 2018[40] 19 May 2019
    Robert Jarni   Croatia 5 August 2019 10 February 2020
    Khalid Jamil (caretaker)   India 10 February 2020 5 August 2020
    Gerard Nus   Spain 25 August 2020 13 January 2021
    Khalid Jamil   India 14 January 2021


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    External linksEdit