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ISL 2019-20: Kerala Blasters head coach Eelco Schattorie was happy with the commitment that his side displayed against ATK

21 Oct 2019, 07:26 IST

Eelco Schattorie
Eelco Schattorie

Indian Super League (ISL) season six got off to an exciting start as hosts Kerala Blasters beat ATK 2-1 in the opening contest at Kochi. After securing an early lead through Carl McHugh in the 6th minute, the visitors conceded twice before half-time. Bartholomew Ogbeche opened the scoring through a penalty in the 30th minute and secured the lead in the 45th minute.

However, Eelco Schattorie spoke about his injury-hit squad, after the match.

"The decisions that I had to make even today; I feel extremely frustrated. Mario Arques had played only 45 minutes in the whole pre-season and he goes out with another injury. We lost Sandesh in the pre-season. The two centre-backs also didn’t come fully fit. It is very difficult to make decisions on who to play. Let us see tomorrow how the players get out of this."

Talking about their satisfying victory, the gaffer expressed his happiness on the players' commitment. He also admitted that the team had cheaply conceded set-pieces in dangerous areas.

"But overall there are a lot of areas that we have to try to fit them together. I am very happy with the three points and the commitment the players had. First-half, we played some football. In the second half, it was about surviving.The only way ATK became dangerous was through free-kicks. We gave them some stupid free-kicks. Overall the defence was good, I think."

Eelco Schattorie surprised many with his decision to exclude Sahal Abdul Samad from the starting XI. Jeakson Singh was offered a debut in place of Sahal, who returned from national duty a few days back. The Dutch manager justified his decision by stating that the Kerala lad would take time to fit into his system.

"My problem is I am honest. It is all about reality. The reality in this case is Sahal, I think is a fantastic player with really good qualities. But he was four weeks absent from the pre-season. Sahal will take some time to fit into the system to play in the way I like to play. That is the same for a few players. It was same with Jeakson Singh. Jeakson actually started really good in the pre-season. But then he had to go for the U-19 national team. He came back and I had to make a decision on the best balance with Mario Arques not fit. I think Jeakson was a little bit more prepared."

Schattorie was asked about Bilal Khan. He was in support of the former Real Kashmir custodian, but also admitted that TP Rehenesh was his first choice and was left out due to an injury.

"Goalkeeping in my opinion is a position that needs experience. Bilal played in the I-League last season. So he has some experience. But at the same time he played in a team where he never had to play from the back. TP Rehenesh was my first choice because he is more experienced and was actually making really good progress. But he got injured yesterday."
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