NorthEast United FC

NorthEast United FC, also known as NEUFC, is an Indian professional football club based in Guwahati, Assam. It competes in the Indian Super League.[1] The club represents the 8 states of India known as North East India: Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Mizoram.[2] The team is owned and operated by Bollywood actor John Abraham.[1]

NorthEast United FC
Full nameNorthEast United Football Club
Founded13 April 2014 (2014-04-13)
GroundIndira Gandhi Athletic Stadium
OwnerJohn Abraham
ManagerRobert Jarni
LeagueIndian Super League
2018–19Regular season: 4th of 10
Finals: Semi-finals
WebsiteClub website

NorthEast United are the first club in India to have a representation by region instead of a city.[3]



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.[4] On 13 April 2014, it was announced that 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".[5]

On 19 August the club hired its first manager, New Zealander Ricki Herbert, who had represented and managed his nation at World Cups.[6]

2014 season: The first season

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.[7] The team did not make the end-of-season play-offs, finishing in last place among the eight teams.

2015 season: Narrowly missed play-offs

For their second season, NorthEast United signed former Portugal international Simão Sabrosa as their new marquee signing.[8] 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.[9] 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 era

On 13 May 2016, NorthEast United announced Sérgio Farias as the club's new manager.[10] 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.[11] On July 23, 2016, NorthEast United announced Nelo Vingada as the club's new 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 season

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-offs

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]
Midfielder Panagiotis Triadis
Forward Bartholomew Ogbeche

2019–20 season: Robert Jarni era

2019-20 is the sixth season of the club's existence.


The official supporters group or fan club of the club is the Highlander Brigade.[24][25] 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.

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 park

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.[26][27]


NorthEast United play the Eastern Derby or East Indian Derby against neighbouring club ATK. NorthEast United have won three matches, drawn two matches and lost five matches till date against ATK. The two clubs represents two football crazy regions of India and also have a huge fan and supporter base.[28][29]

Kits and crest

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 manufacturers and shirt sponsors

Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor
2014–2015 Adidas HTC
2015–2017 Performax
2017–2019 McDowell's No.1
2019 John Abraham Entertainment
2019- Federal Bank

Kit Evolution

2016, 2017–18
2015, 2018–19


NorthEast United is owned by John Abraham, who is an Indian Bollywood actor, producer and former model.[30] It is the only ISL club that is not owned by any company or corporation. John Abraham is said to have spent money from his own pocket in order to finance the club.

During his younger days, John has 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.[31]


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.[32]

Current squad

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

No. Position Player
1 GK Pawan Kumar
2 DF Wayne Vaz
3 FW Asamoah Gyan
4 DF Provat Lakra
5 DF Pawan Kumar
6 MF José David Leudo (captain)
7 MF Ninthoinganba Meetei
8 MF Milan Singh
11 FW Martín Cháves
12 DF Reagan Singh
13 MF Fanai Lalrempuia
14 DF Kai Heerings
15 DF Mislav Komorski
No. Position Player
16 GK Soram Poirei
10 FW Federico Gallego
21 MF Panagiotis Triadis
22 MF Redeem Tlang
23 MF Nikhil Kadam
26 DF Shouvik Ghosh
29 DF Nim Dorjee Tamang
30 MF Alfred Lalruotsanga
32 MF Lalthathanga Khawlhring
33 DF Rakesh Pradhan
45 MF Lalengmawia
24 GK Subhasish Roy Chowdhury

Other Players Under Contract

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

No. Position Player
20 FW Maximiliano Barreiro
19 DF Robert Lalthlamuana
17 MF Rupert Nongrum

Out on Loan

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

No. Position Player
- FW Kivi Zhimomi (on loan at Churchill Brothers S.C.)
- FW Girik Khosla (on loan at Minerva Punjab FC)

Reserves and Academy Players

Current technical staff

Position Name
Head coach Robert Jarni[33]
Assistant coach Saša Glavaš[34]
Assistant coach Khalid Jamil
Goalkeeping coach Sandip Nandy
Head of Academy Khalid Jamil
Chairperson Priya Runchal
Chief Executive Officer Prashant Agarwal
Team Manager Yuvraj Ganeshan
Strengthening and Conditioning Coach Ivica Vrgoc
Kit Manager Ishaan Alsi
Media Manager Anurag Saikia
Media Coordinator Arindam Sarmah
Club Analyst
Team Doctor Afzal Hussain
Head Physiotherapist Firoz Shaikh
Sports Therapist Adith KD

League statistics

Season Teams Position Pld. W D L GF GA GD Pts. League Top Scorer Goals Manager Super Cup
2014 8 8th 14 3 6 5 11 13 -2 15 Koke 4 Ricki Herbert No Cup
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 5th 7 2 4 1 8 9 -1 10 Asamoah Gyan 3 Robert Jarni TBA


As of 24 Jun 2019

Source:[35] [36] ***Stats counted for domestic league only***

Top goalscorers

# Name Years Goals
1 Bartholomew Ogbeche2018- 201912 (18)
2 Nicolás Vélez2015, 20168 (25)
3 Emiliano Alfaro20165 (13)
3 Seiminlen Doungel2014, 2017, 20185 (25)
5 Koke20144 (12)
5 Marcinho2017, 20184 (16)
5 Federico Gallego2018-20194 (20)
5 Rowllin Borges2015, 2016, 2017, 2018-20194 (48)

Top assists

# Name Years Assists
1 Federico Gallego2018-20195 (20)
2 Koke20144 (12)
2 Halicharan Narzary2016, 2017, 20184 (28)
4 Sanju Pradhan20153 (11)
4 Diomansy Kamara20153 (12)
4 Nicolás Vélez2015, 20163 (25)

Most appearances

# Name Years Appearance
1 Reagan Singh2015, 2016, 2017, 2018-201951 (0)
2 Rehenesh TP2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018-201950 (0)
3 Rowllin Borges2016, 2017, 2018-201948 (4)
4 Holicharan Narzary2015, 2016, 2017, 201828 (0)
5 Nicolás Vélez2015, 201625 (8)
5 Seminlen Doungel2014, 2017, 201825 (5)

Notable former foreign players

***All of these players have represented their respective countries at the highest level***

Name Country
Alexandros Tzorvas Greece
Kondwani Mtonga Zambia
Massamba Sambou Senegal
Isaac Chansa Zambia
Koke Spain
Luis Yanes Colombia
Joan Capdevila Spain
Leo Bertos New Zealand
Cornell Glen Trinidad & Tobago
Simão Sabrosa Portugal
André Bikey Cameroon
Silas Portugal
Diomansy Kamara Senegal
Boubacar Sanogo Ivory Coast
Didier Zokora Ivory Coast
Morais Brazil
Romaric Ivory Coast
Emiliano Alfaro Uruguay
Sambinha Guinea-Bissau
Odaïr Fortes Cape Verde
Bartholomew Ogbeche Nigeria


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[37]
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[38] 19 May 2019
Robert Jarni  Croatia 05 August 2019


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