NorthEast United FC

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NorthEast United FC
Northeast United logo.jpg
Full name NorthEast United Football Club
Nickname(s) The Highlanders
Founded 13 April 2014; 4 years ago (2014-04-13)
Ground Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium
Ground Capacity 23,850
Owner John Abraham
Head coach Israel Avram Grant
League Indian Super League
2017–18 Regular season: 10th of 10
Finals: Did not qualify
Website Club website
Current season

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

NorthEast United claims to be the first club in the world to have a representation by region instead of a city.[2]



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 Bollywood actor John Abraham and Shillong Lajong Football Club had won the bidding for the franchise.[1]

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[edit]

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 the Kerala Blasters.[6] The team did not make the end-of-season play-offs, finishing in last place among the eight teams.

2015 Season[edit]

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 managed to enter 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[edit]

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 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) are scored by the South American duo of Nicholas Velez and Emiliano Alfaro with 3 and 5 goals respectively.

2017-18 season[edit]

On 17 July 2017, in hope for a great season NorthEast United signed the young Portuguese manager Joao Carlos Pires de Deus.[12] After playing its preseason games in Antalya, Turkey. The team begin 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.[13] Next they played Chennaiyin FC in Chennai, where they managed to failed to keep the record of never losing in Chennai after losing 3-0.[14] 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 managed to find 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.[15] It was followed by a 4 match losing streak right after which the Portuguese manager was sacked.[16] The team management managed to bring in the ex-Chelsea boss Avram Grant as a technical advisor who acted as a caretaker manager in the absence of Joao.[17] He was later promoted to Head Coach on 12 January 2018, after the team released an official statement about Joao's sacking.[18] The team managed to win 2 out of the first 3 games under Grant, where they defeated FC Goa 2-1[19] and Chennaiyin FC 3-1[20] 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 losing streak in which they managed to draw 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.

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 played their qualifier match against Gokulam Kerala on 15 March 2018 which they lost 2-0 and got eliminated.

League statistics[edit]

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 Spain Koke 4 New Zealand Ricki Herbert No Cup
2015 8 5th 14 6 2 6 18 23 -5 20 Argentina Nicolás Vélez 5 Venezuela César Farías
2016 8 5th 14 5 3 6 14 14 0 18 Uruguay Emiliano Alfaro 5 Portugal Nelo Vingada
2017-18 10 10th 18 3 2 13 12 27 -15 11 India Len
Brazil Marcinho
4 Portugal Joao de Deus
(until 3 January)
Israel Avram Grant
(from 4 January 2018)


The crest of NorthEast United FC is featured with 8 stars at the top representing each state of North-east 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. The original crest, and a red and white is currently in use by the club.


Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium
সৰুসজাই ষ্টেডিয়াম (Sarusajai Stadium)
Location Sarusajai, Guwahati, Assam
Coordinates 26°06′56″N 91°45′37″E / 26.11556°N 91.76028°E / 26.11556; 91.76028
Owner Government of Assam
Capacity 23,850
Opened 2007

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.[21]


NorthEast United is owned by John Abraham, who is an Indian Bollywood actor, producer and former model.[22] It is the only ISL club that is not owned by any company or corporation.


The official supporters group or fan club of the club is the Highlander Brigade.[23] The fan club can be traced back to its roots where it was merely a WhatsApp group formed out of a handful followers of a Facebook page "North East United 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.

With over 200 members stretched out across the 8 states of the Northeast India, The Highlander Brigade is strong and capable enough to indulge in "Travelling Fans" and hosting football related events in the city. To ensure that the football culture remains pro active in the city, the brigade plans to indulge in more fan activities in the coming future.

Even after a lacklustre 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 surrounded by an almost empty stadium. And therefore these beloved group of people 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.

Kit manufacturers and shirt sponsors[edit]

Period Kit Manufacturer Principal Shirt Sponsor Sponsor #2 Sponsor #3
2014 Adidas HTC Haier Garnier Men
2015 Performax Air Asia
2016 Yamaha
2017-18 McDowell's No.1 None

Kit evolution[edit]


Current squad[edit]

First-Team squad[edit]

As of 10 May 2018[24]

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

No. Position Player
13 India GK Rehenesh TP
# India MF Seityasen Singh
# India DF Pawan Kumar
# India GK Pawan Kumar
# India DF Gurwinder Singh
14 India MF Rowllin Borges
No. Position Player
# India FW Kivi Zhimomi
# India MF Girik Khosla
# India DF Provat Lakra
# India MF Redeem Tlang
45 India MF Fanai Lalrempuia
# Nigeria FW Dudu Omagbemi

Reserves and Academy[edit]

NorthEast United run youth teams which competes in U18 Youth League and U15 Youth League. Both teams play in Guwahati-Shillong zone of their respective leagues.

U-18 Squad
As of 13 January 2018[25]

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

No. Position Player
1 India GK Nikhil Deka
8 India FW Moirangthem Amarjit Singh
10 India FW George Khaiminthang Tungnung
13 India DF F. Hmingsang Zuala
14 India MF Batskhemlang Thangkhiew
15 India MF Remark Kharmalki
16 India DF Paoboilen Kipgen
17 India FW Dorjee Wangshu Khangroeju
18 India FW Bhabokstar Shyrkon
19 India DF Satgoulal Touboi
21 India GK Rahul Borah
27 India DF C. Lalnunthara
29 India MF Bankitboklang Nongrum
No. Position Player
30 India MF Deibanraplang Kharumnuid
32 India FW Pintso Lepcha
34 India MF Sanborlang Sohtun
43 India MF Jeffrey Lalmalsawma

Out on Loan[edit]

As of

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

No. Position Player

Current technical staff[edit]

Position Name
Head coach Israel Avram Grant
Assistant coach Netherlands Eelco Schattorie[26]
Goalkeeping coach India Joseph Sidy
Youth Team coach India Subha Rabha
Team Manager India Manish Kochar
Media Manager India Rahul Sengupta
Club Analyst India Parwez Desai
Team Doctor India Amruta Deshpande
Head Physiotherapist India Arvind Yadav
Assistant Physiotherapist India Pratik Kamble
Sports Therapist India Kamal Chandra Das


As of 15 March 2018

Source:[27] [28]

Top goalscorers[edit]

# Name Years Goals
1 Argentina Nicolás Vélez 2015, 2016 8 (25)
2 Uruguay Emiliano Alfaro 2016 5 (13)
2 India Seiminlen Doungel 2014, 2017, 2018 5 (26)
4 Spain Koke 2014 4 (12)
4 Brazil Marcinho 2017, 2018 4 (17)
6 Portugal Simão 2015 3 (10)
6 Senegal Diomansy Kamara 2015 3 (12)
6 India Seityasen Singh 2015, 2016 3 (14)

Top assists[edit]

# Name Years Assists
1 Spain Koke 2014 4 (12)
1 India Halicharan Narzary 2016, 2017, 2018 4 (29)
3 India Sanju Pradhan 2015 3 (11)
3 Senegal Diomansy Kamara 2015 3 (12)
3 Argentina Nicolás Vélez 2015, 2016 3 (25)
6 England James Keene 2014 2 (10)
6 Portugal Simao Sabrosa 2015 2 (10)
6 Spain Bruno Arias 2015 2 (12)
6 Brazil Danilo Cezario 2017, 2018 2 (19)

Most appearances[edit]

# Name Years Appearance
1 India Rehenesh TP 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 45 (0)
2 India Reagan Singh 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 35 (0)
3 India Rowllin Borges 2016, 2017, 2018 30 (0)
4 India Holicharan Narzary 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 29 (0)
5 India Seminlen Doungel 2014, 2017, 2018 26 (5)
6 Argentina Nicolás Vélez 2015, 2016 25 (8)
6 India Nirmal Chettri 2016, 2017, 2018 25 (0)
8 India Robin Gurung 2014, 2015, 2016 24 (0)


Avram Grant, NorthEast United's current manager and head coach
Name Nationality From To Pld W D L GF GA Win%
Ricki Herbert  New Zealand 13 October 2014 20 December 2014 14 3 6 5 11 13 021.43
César Farías  Venezuela 30 June 2015 20 December 2015 14 6 2 6 18 23 042.86
Nelo Vingada  Portugal 23 July 2016 15 May 2017[29] 14 5 3 6 14 14 035.71
João de Deus  Portugal 17 July 2017 3 January 2018 7 1 1 5 2 12 014.29
Avram Grant  Israel 4 January 2018
12 January 2018
(Head Coach)
12 2 1 9 10 17 016.67


  1. ^ a b c Basu, Saumyajit. "Stars embrace football through Indian Super League". Times of India. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Official website of NorthEast United FC | Hero ISL Team". The Official website of NorthEast United FC | Hero ISL Team. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  3. ^ "Indian Super League sees interest from 30 franchise bidders". Business Standard. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Bali, Rahul (16 July 2014). "Capdevila: 'It's a privilege to popularize football in India'". Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Herbert 'looking forward' to Indian Super League". 3news. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Ganguily, Abhishek (13 October 2014). "ISL: NorthEast United ride high on Koke, beat Kerala Blasters 1-0". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Former Portugal winger Simao Sabrosa joins Indian Super League". ESPN FC. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Indian Super League: NorthEast United 2-0 Chennaiyin FC: Simao & Velez earn first points for NorthEast". 20 October 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015. 
  9. ^ "Sergio Farias to NorthEast United". NorthEast United FC (Twitter). 13 May 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "Sergio Farias exits NorthEast United". NorthEast United FC (Twitter). 9 July 2016. 
  11. ^ "NorthEast United FC announce Nelo Vingada as the club's new manager". NorthEast United FC (Twitter). 15 July 2016. 
  12. ^ "Joao Carlos Pires signs with NorthEast United". NorthEast United FC (Twitter). 
  13. ^ "NorthEast drew against 10 men Jamshedpur". 18 November 2018. 
  14. ^ "Chennaiyin defeats NorthEast". 23 November 2018. 
  15. ^ "NorthEast register first win". 2 December 2018. 
  16. ^ "Joao de Deus sacked". Retrieved 3 January 2018. 
  17. ^ "Grant to take over as stand-in coach". Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  18. ^ "Grant officially NorthEast head coach". Retrieved 12 January 2018. 
  19. ^ "First win for Grant". 6 January 2018. 
  20. ^ "Len hat-trick". Retrieved 19 January 2018. 
  21. ^ "lowest ISL attendance". 17 February 2018. 
  22. ^ "John Abraham enters Bollywood with Jism". Times of India. 10 January 2003. Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  23. ^ "Highlander Brigade - NorthEast United FC". Retrieved 2018-04-23. 
  24. ^ "NorthEast United". Indian Super League. Retrieved 6 January 2018. 
  25. ^ "Match Summary" (PDF). Retrieved 7 July 2018. 
  26. ^ "Schattorie joins NorthEast as assistant coach". NorthEast United (twitter). 
  27. ^ "India » Indian Super League » All-time appearances » NorthEast United FC » rank 1 - 50". World Football. Retrieved 3 January 2018. 
  28. ^ "ISL Statistics". IndianSuperLeague(official). 
  29. ^ "Vingada leaves NorthEast United FC". NorthEast United FC (Twitter). 

External links[edit]