Eelco Schattorie: We can still grow

Having already created history by becoming the first Highlanders team to ever qualify for the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) semi-finals, Eelco Schattorie's NorthEast United FC side will be looking to go one step further and reach the final this season. However, the task at hand is easier said than done considering they will face off against table-toppers Bengaluru FC in the semi-finals.

Ahead of the first leg of semi-final 1 at Guwahati, caught up with NorthEast head coach Eelco Schattorie for an exclusive interview. Here's what the Dutchman had to say.

NorthEast United FC, at the start of the season, were considered underdogs and now they have qualified. Thoughts?

First of all, as you can see, you can reach a long way if there is good teamwork. Individual qualities can take it a bit further. Our main success is based on good organisation and we really wanted to work together. And, to take it from there all extras are welcome. Our team has some good players but you have to be realistic. Not being negative or giving excuses but we don't have a deep squad. And, that on itself is a real achievement. We have only 17 players in training. So overall, I could say that I am proud and very happy based on that we had good characters who really wanted to work together.

How has your experience been working with the NorthEast United FC squad and the management?

On the field, I am happy. As I said earlier, we are working with players who are trying to improve themselves. I have worked with so many clubs and if you compare things and certain experiences, we can still grow. I mean it was not possible in four years, we never qualified and we should not be critical of ourselves. This is not being negative or criticising in a negative way but you should look at yourself and ask yourself, where can we do better and there is room for improvement, for me, as a coach, but also as a club.

How do you take the pressure off the players before such big matches?

Pressure is not a cliche. Either you go into the match being scared or you go into the match with confidence. I am the type of person who believes that you have to go in with confidence and see what happens. If you go into the match with too many expectations, then you put the pressure on yourself and I don't like to see that. I also told the players to try and train today. We, of course, did some tactical training and we trained short and sharp. Mainly, the emphasis is on having fun and that is very important going into the match. You need to have the confidence.

Read the Match Preview here.

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