The jinx has been broken and history has been created as the longstanding dream of the Highlanders faithful has come true with NorthEast United sealing their maiden playoff spot in the season five of the Hero Indian Super League.
Highlander's tale is freakishly melodramatic. It was never thought possible for a team who have consistently missed the play-off spots for the past seasons. It is an incredible tale on so many levels, not least the fact that Northeast United was languishing at the bottom of the table last season.
We have missed the playoff spot for the past four seasons and to have achieved this incredible feat speaks volumes about the tightly knit group of players and support staffs who have battled all odds to push us on the brink of an incredible feat that awaits us. A journey that started roughly seven months back has transformed a team of talented individuals into a formidable army who has taken the ISL Playoff spot by storm with a game in hand.
We could talk about the brilliance of Ogbeche, the magic of Gallego, the impregnable Mato Grgic, and yet there will be so many elements missed.
This has been like a jigsaw, a combination of talent who has been masterly in the job assigned to them yet incomplete with one another.
Puitea's tenacity across the pitch and his combination with Robert while dropping back to defend, Redeem and Reagan orchestrating moves down the right in an almost unending and industrial way throughout the game, Borges and Leudo's pivot role in midfield, Gallego's intelligence and almost telepathic connection with Ogbeche, it all adds up to the success that we have achieved as a team backed by a shrewd tactician and a competent team of support staffs.
This season, the team selection was based on intent and purpose bringing in players that covered all the bases for the team. From the forward line to midfield to the defence, the key areas were covered by players of right quality and flair. With a revamped squad, we consolidated a squad of fierce strikers, intelligent midfielders and rock-solid backline to achieve the goal that was long due. A team of individual battle-hardened players who could fight as a team and keep their heads high even at the most difficult times.
This is the lesson, the reason the whole country feels inspired by the qualification of our team that pundits had written off at the start of the season.
The feat has shown the power of team-bonding, uniting every level of the game and restoring elements in the sport beyond money. Team spirit, self-improvement, underdog positivity is what characterized our journey.
We fought as a legion, contested for every square metre on the pitch. Never let the defeat have the last word.
This achievement resonates the passion of every Highlander fan, who have supported the team through the past seasons through trials and tribulations. It calls for a moment of celebration and rejoices through the job is still half done. We would like to thank all our fans, especially the ones from the 8 states who have been our formidable 12th man for us wherever we have played to support us throughout this incredible journey.
It is a moment of reckoning for the entire Northeast, a watershed moment and breaking of a new dawn that glitters from the mountains of the Northeast to embark a new footballing journey that would leave the nation in awe in the days to come.
On behalf of the team, we would like to thank all fans for their support and for being the driving force to help us achieve playoff dreams. While the team gears up to gun for glory, we hope to continue receiving your undying support and fill the stadium with your presence and be heard with the battle cry for your own Highlanders warriors.
We are strong, we are united. As a club, as a team, as fans and with the strength of this unity of the eight remarkable states that has been the torchbearer of Indian football we can achieve this dream.