Schattorie backs his squad to give their all amidst injury concerns

Kerala Blasters FC’s first clash after the international break will be against defending champions, Bengaluru FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday. Despite their numerous injury concerns, the Kochi-based club have managed to collect four points from as many fixtures so far and will be looking to at least add something to the tally when they head to Bengaluru.

“First of all, the most important thing is that as a club and as players, we are trying to do our best and achieve the best we can,” claimed Kerala Blasters head coach Eelco Schattorie at the pre-match press conference, as he tried to sum up his time in charge of the Kochi-based club.

“Unfortunately, on two levels, we are suffering. In defence, all my main centre-backs are injured and in midfield, Mario Arques, who has to control the game for us, is also injured. So that makes it very difficult. But I am also a very realistic person. That means, whatever we have in hand, we are going to work with and give it our all,” he said, addressing Kerala’s substantial injury concerns.

With reference to midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad, who was seated beside him at the presser, the Dutchman opined, “I don’t think I have seen in India, a midfielder who has Sahal’s intuitive, technical and creative qualities. I’m the first one who will acknowledge his quality, but I’m also the first one to say ‘you need little time to grow in certain areas’. At all times, I will support him and for me, it’s like being a second father to get him to the highest possible level. I think on the first day I met Sahal, I told him I will make him the best midfielder in India. But it does not mean it just happens overnight or just giving him a chance because supporters are shouting for him to play.”

The 47-year-old, then, backed the players available at his disposal to put in their best performance against the Blues. “The players that we have at hand, I’m 100% sure that they want to give it their all. Last game, we played against Odisha where we had (injury) issues and we still got a result. Against Bengaluru, we are going to do the same thing with the players that we have at hand. At the end, the team is not just 11 players. There are a lot of players. When there are injuries, they need to step up.”

There has been a lot of talk lately regarding the extent of Jairo Rodrigues’ injury and whether the Blasters would be looking to replace him. Addressing the topic at length, Schattorie said, “It’s very simple. Jairo arrived basically with an injury. On the first day he came, it didn’t right away show. He played his first game in Dubai where we had a training camp.”

“I give only praise for his character in the way he moved on from pre-season to now. The hamstring injury can be solved but the meniscus (tear) is a problem. We are trying to solve the problem and hopefully it will be solved. He is still with Kerala Blasters, but we are trying to solve that problem,” he stated.

Sahal, meanwhile, was full of praise for his head coach, maintaining, “He is a great coach. Everyone knows that. And he has even proved that. I wasn’t here for much of the pre-season, so I had to stay out because he had many options. And that’s how it goes. Each player has his own responsibility. He just has to do it on the pitch.”

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