Schattorie reveals Ogbeche-Rowllin may miss second leg, Cuadrat rues poor first half

NorthEast United FC left it late to secure a 2-1 win against Bengaluru FC in the first leg of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 semi-final 1 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday. The Highlanders drew first blood through Redeem Tlang on the 20th minute, but Bengaluru equalised on the 82nd minute. Juan Mascia converted a penalty deep into added time to hand NorthEast the victory.

While the result was a big step in the right direction for the Highlanders, injuries to Bartholomew Ogbeche and Rowllin Borges over the course of the match made it somewhat bittersweet. At the post-match press conference, NorthEast head coach Eelco Schattorie provided an update on his key stars and said, "(Ogbeche’s injury is) serious. Before the match, Rowllin Borges was injured yesterday in the training. During the set-piece training, he pulled a hamstring. He recovered half, so he had to start the game with an injury. And then, Bartholomew Ogbeche (got injured) during a sprint. So, at the end of the first half, we lost two players. That’s a big blow. I don’t think they will be fit for the next game."

The Dutchman followed up with his analysis of the match. "Having said that, in the first half, we completely outplayed Bengaluru. They did not create one chance. They didn’t have any answer to our tactics. In the second half, losing Borges in the midfield was a big problem. I had to bring in Nikhil Kadam who is physically not as strong as Borges in dealing with pressure," he said.

“In the second half, we didn’t play football anymore but that is also understandable. But I’m very happy with the first half. I think it’s one of the better halves this season especially to completely shut off Bengaluru. Overall, I think we deserved the result. But the next game is going to be a big challenge," he added.

Commenting on the impending second leg, Schattorie said, "It's good that we won, especially in the last moments. That is a psychological blow for Bengaluru. But I am sure we will have a tough match at Bengaluru. They have a deeper squad. But we will focus on ourselves and will try to recover as soon as possible. Our spirits are high and hopefully, we can take it one step further."

From Bengaluru’s end, head coach Carles Cuadrat was available for the post-match briefing. He started off by identifying what went wrong for his team during the first half. "Football is like this. Sometimes you get more possession, sometimes less. Sometimes we win more second-balls, sometimes less. They were playing at home. So, they were giving extra in front of their supporters, trying to get the game for them," he said.

"But as you saw in the second half, it was completely different. We made a clever game trying to work from one side to the other, trying to get the chances to score. So, I think it was a nice game to watch with a lot of exciting things happening," he added.

The Spaniard then, revealed what advice he gave his players during the interval. "To be calm with the possession of the ball. We were misplacing the last pass. We have the quality to make that kind of pass. So, we had to wait. If you see our goal, Sunil Chhetri had the temperament, had the time to prepare and passed the ball for Xisco Hernandez to score. So, that kind of final pass was something we had been missing in the first half.”

Read the Match Report here.

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