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As Deshorn Brown regained his form, Gallego rediscovered himself since Khalid Jamil took over as the head coach of the Highlanders …
When Khalid Jamil took over as NorthEast United’s interim head coach, the Highlanders were placed in the middle of the league table and reaching the playoffs seemed like a distant dream.
They got off to a good start with former coach Gerard Nus, but their form waned in the first four games of the season. A series of draws and losses caused NorthEast United to falter in the league table and that led to management parting ways with the Spanish coach and the former I-League winning coach entered. They had failed to win in seven games before Jamil took over.
Along with the inclusion of Jamil, management also made a change to their squad. With Ghanaian forward Kwesi Appiah ruled out of the season due to injury, NorthEast United replaced him with Deshorn Brown, who terminated his contract with Bengaluru FC to join the Highlanders in the January window.
The Jamaican striker struggled to gain playing time in Bengaluru and was unable to score a single goal in the 10 games he played for the Blues this season. Brown’s signing turned out to be a big gamble, but Jamil never complained. Instead, he decided to go into battle with the squad he had.
The first game after Jamil took over, NorthEast United beat Jamshedpur FC 2-1 with Deshorn Brown scoring on his debut. NorthEast then won its next two heats against ATK league leaders Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City. Brown scored a quick double early in the game against Mumbai, allowing his team to earn a convincing victory over eventual league winners.
At the end of the league stage, Brown has scored five goals in nine games and has shown that with the right guidance, he can work wonders. Brown, who resumed his form, set the tone for the Highlanders’ return. In fact, since the Jamaican joined, the club has yet to lose a match.
Along with Deshorn Brown, another player who has regained prominence is the Uruguayan midfielder Federico Gallego. Gallego has been a faithful servant of the club for the last three seasons. After an excellent first season, he suffered an injury that left him out for much of the second season. He also looked rusty and not in his prime in the early part of this season.
He also had some concerns about his fitness, but he has overcome them and seemed to have returned to his best with Jamil.
With Nus, the attacking midfielder had appeared in seven games of which he had started five, but was unable to impact games. But with Jamil, he rediscovered himself and became a very important player.
With the Indian coach, the Uruguayan played six of the nine games. Additionally, three of his four goals this season have come since Jamil took over the team. He scored once in the win over ATK Mohun Bagan and scored twice against FC Goa and helped his team hold the Gaurs to a thrilling 2-2 draw.
In attack, Jamil has efficiently utilized Gallego, Brown and Luis Machado and that is what has inspired the club’s massive comeback this season. In these three players and VP Suhair, the Highlanders have one of the most powerful attacks among the teams in the play-offs.