Schattorie hoping to outscore Mumbai as centre-back crisis deepens

NorthEast United FC host Mumbai City FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Friday for what promises to be another drama-filled and exciting fixture in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2018-19. Despite their strong start to the season which sees them occupy one of the play-off positions, the Highlanders are yet to win at home – a stat that they’ll be hoping to turn around soon.

Ahead of the fixture, Eelco Schattorie spoke to reporters at the pre-match press conference. The Dutchmen began by sharing how he’s been keeping his players motivated after such a strong start to the season. “I don’t think that (motivation) will be an issue. I think our team, our group, we don’t have big characters for that. Of course, that can also happen, but I don’t think that’s a big issue. Our bigger issue will be that in the games we’ve played till now, we almost every time had a suspension or injury. Last game against Jamshedpur we got a red card… And for tomorrow’s game I have a big issue there (in defence). So that for me is a bigger problem to overcome,” Schattorie explained.

With how he plans to deal with mounting injuries and suspensions as well as a shortage of cover at the back, Schattorie said: “Our squad is not that deep. As in we don’t have that many options but again that’s football. We have to look at our position as a team on the market. It means budget wise I don’t think we’re one of the highest. Until now we dealt with all those situations to still overcome. We have good players up front, so we’ll try to score one more goal than the opponent team. And hopefully that covers our defence. Having said that I know at the beginning (of the season) there were some comments about NorthEast having a shaky defence but at the moment we’re the second team after Bengaluru with the lowest amount of goals. So, we’re pretty well organized and hopefully we can continue that against Mumbai tomorrow.”

The emergence of local talent has been one of the many positives for Schattorie so far. The Dutchmen admitted that he was pleased with the effort of these players and that he hopes for more from them in the future. “Yes, I think Redeem (Tlang) has played all games till now. Lalthathanga (Khawlhring), he came in last week in halftime and he did really well. Most likely (he) will start tomorrow again. And yeah, you never know how a young player is going to react. But my philosophy is always that if you don’t give a chance, you also have no chance to improve. I have all my confidence and whenever there are mistakes, we will try and improve them,” Schattorie said.

He continued: “But overall hopefully I get back good energy and positive attitude and as I said for us at this moment especially these games now, last game, this game, is to have a team that really cooperate together. We need to get that three points at home, because we didn’t do that yet. And then we have a break. It would be fantastic if we go in with three points and have a longer break. Start preparing and get everybody fit again and start for the second part of the league. “

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