Schattorie ‘frustrated’ as injury-ravaged squad face uphill task
NorthEast United FC’s first-ever taste of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) Semi-Finals action sees them host Bengaluru FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in the first leg of the first semi-final on Thursday. The Highlanders qualified after finishing in fourth place, a major upgrade on their bottom-placed finish 12 months ago.
Their boss, Eelco Schattorie, spoke at the pre-match press conference of the historic clash in Guwahati. He began by refusing to liken his team’s transformation from a Mini Cooper of-sorts to a Ferrari, although did admit they had come a long way. “Ferrari for sure, has a high performance, has abilities other cars don’t have. I think we have reached a certain level but to call it a Ferrari is a ‘no’ because in the end, if it was a Ferrari, then there would be certain parts of the game that I would want to be on a higher level. I’m talking about dominating. The achievement is there but the level of football, I want to be higher. But that has reasons,” he said.
The Dutchman has masterminded a tremendous transformation from last season where the same team finished at the bottom of the table. Answering specifically in that context and revealing the things he had changed, Schattorie said, “I think the last 10, 11, 12 games, I am only puzzling. I am only trying to fit a puzzle. I’m frustrated with that. Also, now for tomorrow’s game, I have another puzzle to fit. I have only 16 players. If you look at our achievement, that is fantastic.”
“But I wish I had a more options. More choices going into this game. So, if you ask me what we did this season different from last season, what I emphasised a lot on that is we try to build a firm foundation of being very organised defensively and as a team, try to work for each other. We rely only on Bartholomew Ogbeche and Federico Gallego for goals and assists. After that, one Indian player is Rowllin Borges who picked in with some goals. Our result is based on good organization and high work rate,” he added.
Schattorie then, provided a quick update on the team news. “I’m not going to name any names but there are too many. I have too many problems. Tomorrow whoever will go on the field, they will surely fight, work hard and play for the badge on the front of the shirt. I wish I had more options,” he said.
The 47-year-old also had positive words on Borges. “Last year when I came, I was speaking to my assistant that there are two things I really like as a coach. One is finding flaws in the opposition team and try to find a tactical solution to that. And secondly, is fit a team together. To make a puzzle. One of those things is recognising certain qualities and not every coach sees the same quality in certain players. One thing for sure when it comes to Borges is that he has high dynamics. Last week he played at right-back and did fantastic. He’s multifunctional. Because he is dynamic, he fits better in a 4-3-3 as an attacking midfielder than in a 4-2-3-1 as a holder,” he said.
The Dutchman concluded by having his say on tomorrow’s opponent, Bengaluru FC. “I think Bengaluru is existent for five years now. In those five years, they were always on top. So, any coach who was at Bengaluru came into a club that is well organised, well structured, has a lot of good players. It’s just a good club. It’s just a fantastic club. I think it’s the best club in India. We played them two times and played really well,” he said.
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