Panjim, Nov 22 (IANS): NorthEast United head coach Gerard Nus is keeping his feet on the ground despite his team pulling off an upset with a 1-0 win over the star-studded Mumbai City FC to start the Indian Super League (ISL) season.
"I just thought that we were very competitive," he told the media after the match on Saturday.
"We knew what to expect from a brilliant side like Mumbai City. We followed the plan, the players did a fantastic job and I am pleased with all of them, even the guys that didn't have too much time in the game or didn't play, they pushed the team from the bench. This is just the start of I believe a serious season for NorthEast. I am happy but we need to keep improving at the same time."
NorthEast seemed content to sit deep and defend for much of the first half in which Mumbai dominated possession. The odds levelled up when Mumbai's Ahmed Jahouh was sent off minutes before the half time whistle was blown. NorthEast the went ahead with a second half penalty.
"A penalty and sending off are always big moments in a football game but there are other moments too. If we relax a team like this will punish you so we kept that mentality alive, we were switched on all the time," said Nus.
"It is good to start with three points but more than that, even if the result was not in our favour, we can see there is a clear pattern in how we play. I have said since day one that we will be a team that will fight and never give up and that is what we saw today and in the two friendlies before this."
NorthEast's next game is against Kerala Blasters on Thursday and Nus insisted that the team will be looking at it as a bigger challenge than their first game.
"No way at all we are favourites. The coming game will be tougher than this one. We are in many ways in a much different position, we know our identity. No way we are favourites, I saw the game last night, they have good principals of play. I am just concerned with how we can deal with the coming game," he said.