ISL: "We have to do our best and not think much," says North East star Federico Gallego
Northeast United FC star Midfielder Federico Gallego shares his views ahead of their maiden clash against Bengaluru FC
A cheeky free-kick goal against FC Goa in his debut match in the 2018/19 season of the Indian Super League was how Federico Gallego announced himself to Indian Football Fans and the NorthEast United star man hasn't looked back ever since. NorthEast United FC will start their campaign against Bengaluru FC on 20th November at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Goa. Federico Gallego has amassed 9 goals and 12 assists in 46 games for the Highlanders and has certainly become one of the fan favorites at the club. Federico sat in a candid interview with The Bridge as he shared some insights into his life and preparation ahead of the new season.
What it Means to Play for NorthEast United in India
The 21/22 season of ISL will be 4th for Federico with NEUFC here in India and it's very rare when a foreign player stays so much longer at one club in ISL. He has now signed 3 contract extensions with The Highlanders which shows his loyalty towards the fans and team management. So we asked him the reason for this long-term commitment with the club and he replied, "I feel comfortable here, it's like home here. I feel happy with the players, coaches, and staff who work here and the fans also. Fans are amazing, they love me, they send me gifts and lots of good wishes so I really like being here and I want to continue doing that for as long as possible."
To follow up with this, we asked him about his favorite Indian food and movies. He answered, "I have tried a lot of Indian food, I don't like spicy too much but I still like the taste of the food and my favorite is garlic nan with butter chicken. I have recently watched PK and 3 idiots (laughs), both were really enjoyable and funny so yeah I loved them."
On Departures and New Arrivals for the Season
North East United FC have lost quite a few players including Aupia and Dylan Fox in the transfer window and have replaced them with a lot of new faces. So many new players in the first team could create difficulties on the pitch with regards to team chemistry and tactics. Federico shared his views on the same, he said, "Yes we have lost a lot of players in the pre-season but we have also signed many young and exciting talents who have got great potential and all of us are working together so that we can have better season the last one. And I believe whoever plays, he will help the team in the same way." On asking about one new signing he is most excited for, he said, "I don't want to take names, all of them are great, everyone knows what Hernan Santana did last season and now he will play for us so he is a great addition. Then Indian players also have got great skills and I am happy with all new signings."
On Head Coach Khalid Jamil
Khalid Jamil replaced Gerard Nus as head coach on an interim basis last season after the Spanish manager was sacked mid-season for poor performance. Under Khalid, NEUFC went unbeaten in ten consecutive matches in the season. Under him, the club reached the playoffs for the second time in their history and He became the first Indian coach to reach the ISL playoffs. Federico shared his views on him, he said. "Khalid is a very good guy, he works a lot. He always tries to do his best. We are trying to learn how he wants us to play and now we have to take our responsibility on the pitch because he is doing a great job and now it's on us to execute his plans."
On Match against Bengaluru FC
North East United play their first match against Bengaluru on 20th November. So we asked him about the team's preparation for the same. Federico said, "I think they are preparing their best. We know Bengaluru is very strong, a big team here in India. They have a new head coach so we don't know how they will play, but we know their squad and players very well. So we have to do our best and not think much about them."
Life in Bio Bubble
For the second season in a row, ISL is being held in a bio bubble where all matches are going to take place in Goa itself. Sharing his experience on the same, Federico said, "It's very difficult living in a bubble. We can't go out, we can't do certain things but we have to stay positive as it's necessary for our health for safety from Covid. In this situation, mental health is very important, we don't have to think too much about football. I have had 1-year of prior experience living in a bubble but it could be difficult for new guys. So we are helping each other and staying positive."
Federico will start his campaign against Bengaluru on 20th November and The Highlanders would certainly be dependent on their number 10 for turning the game in their favor.