‘Rough diamond’ Sahal needs time to shine, thinks Schattorie

In one of his pre-match press conferences conducted towards the end of last season, the then NorthEast United boss, Eelco Schattorie, openly confessed his fascination with Kerala Blasters FC's young sensation Sahal Abdul Samad. The attacking midfielder was enjoying a terrific Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 campaign back then, as he demonstrated tremendous ball-playing abilities alongside an unreal aptitude for dribbling. 

Back in May, the Dutchman was appointed as the new head coach of Kerala Blasters and the ongoing pre-season ahead of the Hero ISL 2019-20 season has presented him the perfect opportunity to work hands-on with the youngster. In a recent interview, Schattorie, reiterated his admiration towards the quality Sahal possesses.

Elaborating extensively on his first impressions of training Sahal, Schattorie said, "I’ve been working with Sahal for a few weeks, although he was also with the national team. So, there was not a lot of time. He has tremendous talent, and at the same time, he’s a player who plays with intuition."

Identifying the Blue Tigers midfielder as somewhat of a ‘rough diamond’, the Dutchman added, "You can see that he has never been really coached. I think he played in the Emirates, where he was born. He never played in a club level before this. So, this guy is like a rough diamond. So, to really grow, he needs time and coaching."

The Kerala boss, however, provided no assurances to Sahal, or for that matter, anybody on his squad regarding a guaranteed berth in his starting 11. "He’s (Sahal) willing to learn, but there are certain elements of the game which he needs to pick up. Why would I play him if he doesn’t give me exactly what I need?" he said.

"In the end, I will do what I think is best for the team. If people like it or not, it’s their problem. I cannot play somebody just because people like him, that’s not how football works," he added.

Besides signing some top quality foreigners, the Blasters have also invested quite heavily on young local talent this summer. Having worked with them for a good few weeks now, Schattorie outlined a path for these players, urging them to be patient and work towards finding consistency in their game.

"I am very simple in my thinking. If an Indian talent is performing better than a foreign talent, then he will play,” claimed the Kerala boss. “The young players sometimes give their everything, and sometimes they don’t have enough experience to give a good performance. They should be humble and take their time because, in the end, young players need playing time."

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