ISL 2019-20: 'Kerala have a very bad coach, he doesn't know how to win', Eelco Schattorie clears the tension ahead of clutch clash with Mumbai City FC

Eelco Schattorie was upbeat ahead of Kerala's clash against Mumbai City FC
Eelco Schattorie was upbeat ahead of Kerala's clash against Mumbai City FC

A few days ago, Kerala Blasters, with a win in their sights, inexplicably squandered that opportunity with an elementary error in the defensive third. Unsurprisingly, FC Goa capitalised to pile more misery on the Kochi-based outfit, considering the latter had not won an encounter since the opening day of the ISL season.

In the aftermath of that contest, Eelco Schattorie stormed off the pitch, with a face like thunder at his side’s inability to see out another game. Thus, plenty expected the Dutchman to cut a slightly frustrated figure on the eve of the match against Mumbai City FC.

Yet, nothing of that sort materialised as the Blasters manager chatted away on a variety of aspects, even taking the journalists in attendance slightly aback courtesy the confidence he portrayed.

On being asked what ailment exactly plagued the side, he replied with a broad grin,

Kerala has a very bad coach who doesn’t know how to win.

On a more serious note though, he started chalking out the flaws that needed ironing. He said,

I’m a bit annoyed by the scoreboard analysis that keep talking about us giving excuses. Injuries have played a massive role but I have seen progress. We performed well against Bengaluru and then Goa but we only have to thank ourselves for not coming away with a positive result. There were individual errors but I have spoken to the players and we have to move forward.

Additionally, the Kerala manager talked about the side’s goals (or lack thereof), stating that he wasn’t enduring any sleepless nights about Bartholomew Ogbeche’s recent drought. He remarked,

In my view, for a team to be successful, they need to have a scoring striker, a goalkeeper who saves shots and the supply line. We have a wonderful striker but somehow the supply isn’t working as it should, obviously because of players not playing in their favoured position. For example, Cido is a player who is better close to goal but I have been forced to withdraw. There were so many teams last year that didn’t have striker to finish. We have a good striker but we are working on the supply. And, if everyone is fit, I’m sure we can compete for the top spot.

Over the past few weeks, there have been plenty who have jumped the gun on Schattorie and accused him of searching for excuses even when it would’ve been easier to not indulge in them. However, the Dutch coach swatted aside those claims, quipping,

I am a coach who works with what I have. I don’t complain but rather I just sketch the reality. And, if people construe that as an excuse, they don’t understand football. That’s how I see it.

And to be fair to Schattorie, injuries have significantly disrupted the Blasters’ campaign, especially considering they’ve had key players missing all across the pitch.

Yet, he is throwing his weight behind the players available to him, thereby stating that the morale in the dressing room is high, as long as his troops adhere to the game-plan set out.

On being questioned about the number of late goals in the ISL recently, Schattorie opined,

This is a trend I have observed in Asian football. There are a lot of goals in the first and last minutes of each half and through set-pieces. It is a case of a lack of concentration and it isn’t something that is restricted to India.

Furthermore, Raju Gaikwad, a former Mumbai City FC player, echoed similar sentiments when quizzed about the Islanders’ susceptibility to set-pieces this term. He said,

We are working on those opportunities as they can be a good goal-scoring option. Also, this game is special for me and I would like to put in a good display.

At the end of his vibrant press conference, Schattorie talked about how the Blasters were a club in transition and how they needed a bit of time to actually emerge from it with distinction. Having said that though, both the Dutchman and Raju spoke with conviction that Kerala were after all three points tomorrow.

And, thus, on a sultry Wednesday afternoon in Mumbai, the visitors had firmly laid down the gauntlet.

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Edited by Amar Anand
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