Schattorie cautious before facing resurgent ATK

NorthEast United FC will host two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions ATK at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday. The match may prove to be a decisive fixture in the race for the top four this season. The Highlanders are in fantastic form and have given a terrific account of themselves so far. ATK, on the other hand, made a rocky start but are currently enjoying a mini resurgence of sorts.

A day prior to the match, NorthEast head coach Eelco Schattorie, began his pre-match press conference by praising his opponents and said, "First of all, I think ATK has an amazing squad. They have really good players. They had a slow start and have started to pick up."

In the reverse fixture back in October, NorthEast beat ATK by a goal in Kolkata. When asked if that victory will give his team some extra confidence, the Dutchman said, "You can’t compare the first game they played against us to the game that is coming, because a team that is on a flow is completely different to the team that is on a losing end. So, it’s difficult to compare the games. The only thing I’m sure of is that ATK are a really good squad physically and they also have a lot of footballing quality in their squad."

Schattorie has lately voiced his concern about the growing influence of fatigue in his team’s recent performances. Asked if he will be tempted to play some of the fringe players in the upcoming match in order to keep the squad fresh, he said, "It’s not a matter of giving a chance. You need to show in the training that you are at a stage to get into this team. I’m not a coach who likes to make a lot of changes. There are other teams who keep on changing their line-ups and don’t get success. Success comes from stability."

Defender Provat Lakra’s nasty injury late in the second-half against Bengaluru FC dealt the Highlanders a big blow. Schattorie confirmed that the right-back will be out of action for a lengthy period. "Yes, he’s out. Hopefully, for the second part of the league, he’ll be there. But from what I could see, if he has a fracture, it’s not certain how long it will take. I’m very unhappy with it, especially for him. He’s a boy that I carefully tried to build into the team. He’s a boy who has a good future," he said.

Read the match preview here.

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