Schattorie: Need Kerala fans to be our 12th man through thick and thin

Former NorthEast United FC boss Eelco Schattorie's move down south to take over the reins at Kerala Blasters FC has been one of the highlights leading up to Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20. The Dutchman did a stupendous job with the Highlanders last season, guiding them to a first-ever semi-final appearance and will be expected to, at the very least, repeat the feat with the Kochi-based side.

The magnitude of the task Schattorie achieved at NorthEast comes across as even more remarkable, considering the Highlanders finished rock bottom of the league back in the 2017-18 season, with just 11 points from 18 matches. Now at Kerala, the Dutchman finds himself in the middle of a similar situation, with the Kochi-based club finishing second last in the 2018-19 campaign. "The difference between my challenge at NorthEast and the one I am facing at Kerala is not much," opined the 47-year-old. "NorthEast, in the season before last, were last in the league, never qualified for the semis. Kerala also, in the last two seasons, didn’t do too well. So, we have built a new team. Basically, it’s a bit of the same challenge. The only difference is that it’s a new environment and a new team."

Only thing I want this season is that fans be our 12th man

Despite his familiarity with the task at hand Schattorie, however, reiterated the importance of the famous Kerala Blasters' fans support and urged them to stand by the team in their good times and bad to help them navigate through the challenging league ahead. "The only thing I want this season is that they be our 12th man and support us at all games at home. And of course, with their spirit, when we are away," he stated.

Further issuing a rallying call to the fans, the Dutchman added, "As long as, we as a team, give everything and leave everything on the field, hopefully, the supporters will stay positive and guide us through those long six, seven months. They are our 12th man in good and bad times."

We want to be champions

Speaking about his objectives for the season ahead, Schattorie remarked, "The team goal is like every other team - you want to be champions. There is not one team that has a goal of coming second or third. So, our team goal is to go for the highest possible position. My personal goal for the season is to bring out the best and the maximum out of my players. I want my players to get to a higher level and automatically they should, hopefully, lead to good results for the whole team."

Asked about his assessment of the competition he would be up against from other teams in the league, Schattorie responded, "It’s always very difficult to predict which team is going to be the best. There are always expectations. There are expectations on us as well. So, if you ask me which team really is going to challenge us, I’m going to say all the other nine teams. Although you have certain ideas that certain teams who have brought in good foreign players are really good, but at the same time, it’s very difficult to predict. I want to focus on my own team and hopefully, in the end, we will emerge as winners."

In a bid to put their disappointments from the previous two seasons behind them, the Kerala management has gone all out to back Schattorie in the transfer market, bringing in top names like Sergio Cidoncha, Gianni Zuiverloon and Bartholomew Ogbeche, among others. With a formidable squad at his disposal and a staunch Kerala support behind him, Schattorie has made it clear that he will be aiming for nothing less than the title itself in Hero ISL 2019-20.

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