Eelco Schattorie: Aware of ATK’s weaknesses and will exploit them

Rejuvenated after their commanding win over Hyderabad FC in their last outing, Kerala Blasters FC will be looking to build on the momentum with a victory over arch-rivals ATK FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday. The two sides last met on the opening day of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20, with Eelco Schattorie's men coming out on top by a 2-1 scoreline at Kochi.

At the pre-match press conference, the Kerala head coach recalled that particular fixture from earlier in the season and said, “The opening game, they didn’t know anything about us, and we didn’t know anything about them, because it was the first game. This game, I know exactly what their weaknesses are, and I know how to exploit them. But in the end, the players have to do that. So, I have a good plan there. Last week, we won against Hyderabad and it gave some confidence to the players, which is always good.”

Between the victories against ATK on the opening day and the one over Hyderabad last week, Kerala went nine matches without a win. Addressing the slump in form, the Dutchman noted, “This is well documented already that we’re the only team that had six of the seven foreigners injured on and off. That’s the difference. Last week, Gianni (Zuiverloon) came back after a long time. We have struggled a lot with our defence (because of injuries). Our midfield, too, also changed constantly. I didn’t play two games in a row with the same 11.”

The Dutchman, however, reiterated his confidence on the team’s ability to climb up the table and mount a serious challenge for a spot in the top four. He noted, “There’s a few points between number four and us. So, it’s still open with seven games to go. Most of the goals we have conceded this season are from set-pieces. That means defensive set-pieces. It depends on the height of the team. We aren’t doing too bad defensively overall. Last season, I had the best defensive record in the league, even from set-pieces. So, I know how to organize my team. Most teams aren’t that comfortable playing against us. It’s difficult to play against us. I know exactly where the errors are. In the end, we have to work on it.”

Midfielder Halicharan Narzary, who was also in attendance at the media briefing, said, “We just have to be together. We can reach the top four. If we play together on the field, we have a chance to be in the top four. It’s important for us to win every match. We have to work harder.”

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