Guwahati: Riding high on his team's first win against Kerala Blasters in their opening match, John Abraham, co-owner of NorthEast United FC, believes that Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) will be their toughest opponents in the Indian Super League (ISL).
"Yeah, I believe we've got our toughest game coming up against ATK. And then we will face FC Goa. Another tough one. Two very, very tough games," the Bollywood actor was quoted as saying on the ISL official website.
NorthEast United FC pulled off a hard fought 1-0 victory against Kerala Blasters FC in their opening match of the ISL at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati Monday.
They are scheduled to host Atletico de Kolkata Oct 16 and FC Goa Oct 19 at the same venue.
He spoke of his relief after his team's win in their first match. Spaniard Sergio Contreras Pardo, also known as Koke, scored the only goal of the match in the first half.
"Well, there was a lot of pressure on us. And interestingly, I remember Koke telling me before the game that if we win, it will be great for the spirit and morale of the team. I'm just happy with this win. It's amazing. I'm so happy. And all credit to Kerala Blasters who played fantastic and they really hung in there and they pounded our goal towards the end," he said.
The Bollywood star also praised the vociferous crowd present at the ground.
"The crowd was so supportive with all the screaming. They were awesome. The atmosphere at the ground was beautiful. We've played practice matches in a situation like this before. The young boys are used to big crowds. Being from the North-East, people follow football. This is great. This win means a lot to us," the 41-year-old said.
He lauded his team's effort against Kerala Blasters, pointing to the perceived lack of experience in his squad.
"Statistically, NorthEast United are the youngest team in the ISL and we were playing against the most experienced team. But there were no signs of any nerves from your team. The young kids playing all are aged 18-19 years. Give them three years and they'll be taking on anyone," the former model said, adding: "We've got the best pitch, the best scenic beauty at the back and the most fantastic audience. And not to forget, the best players. We love our players".