Ahead of the upcoming season of the Indian Super League (ISL 2023-24), NorthEast United FC have acquired the services of Spaniard Juan Pedro Benali as the head coach of the first team on a 1+1 year deal, the club announced the signing through their social media handles on Monday.
Over the course of an illustrious career spanning nearly three decades, the 54-year-old, Benali has coached teams in three different continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as being the Technical Assistant for the Finnish national team.
Speaking on the appointment, Benali said “It is a great honour for me to accept the appointment as the Head Coach of NEUFC. I am incredibly excited to embark on this journey with the Club as we look to build a competitive team that can challenge at the highest levels.”
Speaking on the talent that exists in the region, Benali said, “The Northeast region is the heart of Indian football and is home to some of the country’s best footballing talent that we will look to nurture. The region also has very passionate and knowledgeable fans, and I will try my best to make them proud.”
Benali has been following the ISL very closely over the past few years as he has many connections within Indian football.
“I have diligently followed the league, observing many players who have either played alongside me or competed against me such as Hugo Boumous, Noah Sadaoui, Mourtada Fall, and Zaid Krouch. As well as having the pleasure of working alongside distinguished professionals like Sergio Lobera, Stuart Baxter, and Miguel Ángel Portugal who competed in this league,” Benali said.
Speaking on the appointment NorthEast United CEO, Mandar Tamhane said, “We are delighted to welcome Juan to the Club. Not only is Juan a fantastic coach and a master tactician, but he also has the unique experience of managing in three different continents across the world. The diversity of the teams he has coached is a testament to his evolving tactical style and his knowledge of the global footballing landscape. His experience at the Youth level will also help us in creating a pathway for the talent from the region.”
Juan Pedro Benali Career
An African Super Cup Finalist with RS Berkane in 2021, Benali brings with him a pedigree of success and excellence. His role as head coach of Vissel Kobe in 2008 resulted in the team getting promoted into the J-League as well as winning the “Best Attack” Award in Japan. He won the UAE Cup with Sharjah Football Club in 2003 as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Arab Cup with Moroccan club SCC Mohammedia in 2001.
His accomplishment with SCC Mohammedia led to him joining Al-Gharafa Sports Club in Qatar where he led the team to a second-place finish, on level points with the champions, narrowly missing out on the league title on goal difference. Benali, throughout his career, has also been involved in setting up and running academies.