Schattorie happy with commitment levels, Habas rues missed opportunities

Kerala Blasters opened their Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 campaign with a thrilling 2-1 win over arch-rivals ATK. For Kerala, Bartholomew Ogbeche scored a brace to cancel out and better ATK's Carl McHugh's opening goal in the first-half. This was the second time in two seasons that Kerala have gotten the better of ATK in the opening fixture of the season.

After the win, Kerala head coach Eelco Schattorie faced the media at the post-match press conference. The Dutchman began by addressing the injury issues affecting his side, with Mario Arques having joined the long list of players on the Kerala treatment table. "I’m happy we have three points, I am, but I felt really frustrated after we lost Mario Arques. He played 45 minutes in the pre-season. it was a risk to use him and he goes out with another injury."

“We lost Sandesh (Jhingan) in the pre-season. Very difficult to make a responsible decision on who to pick. Let’s see how the players get out of this. I think we deserved to win. The players had a fantastic mentality on the field. TP Rehenesh got injured, he twisted his ankle and could hardly walk so we had to use Bilal (Khan). He has no experience in the Hero ISL," he added.

He further stated that his side is still a work in progress. “Overall there are some areas we must fix. We are very, very happy with the three points and the commitment of the players. First-half, we played some football. In the second half, it was about surviving. ATK only got chances through free kicks, but we conceded some stupid free-kicks. Overall the defence was good, I think,” he said.

The former NorthEast United boss then explained why midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad didn't start the match and analysed the performance of 18-year-old midfielder, Jeakson Singh, who picked up the Emerging Player of the Match award on his debut. "Sahal (Abdul Samad) is a fantastic player but he was absent from the whole pre-season, it will take him some time to integrate into my system. That is the same for a few players. Jeakson started well in the pre-season. I must take decisions on the right balance, and I think Jeakson was a bit quicker. His first-half was not bad, but he is just 18 and playing at this level for the first time. As I said before, I don’t mind using young players, but they need to bring something to the table. In the second-half, he dropped a bit that is why we had to take him off."

On being asked whether he or his side panicked after the visitors took the lead, the Dutchman answered, "If you look at my history, I have won many games after conceding first. The good thing is the way Ogbeche stepped up was fantastic. All players were working hard. I don’t think ATK were dangerous. The free-kicks we gave away came about because we were a little bit too enthusiastic."

From the ATK camp, head coach Antonio Lopez Habas made his disappointment known and opined that his team was unfortunate not to win the tie. “We did not convert nearly 6-7 chances which should have been converted. The penalty (Kerala’s) was unfair on us. We had a penalty call before that, but the referee missed it,” the Spaniard said.

ATK assistant coach Manuel Cascallana added to the head coach’s views and said, “We played a great match. We saw a really good performance on the pitch in the first 45 minutes. Last minute of the first half we conceded a goal, and later in the second half, we had many chances. So, it was really good from the team.”

Read the Match Report here.

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