Schattorie: Told Sahal I will make him the best midfielder in India

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Eelco Schattorie, in a post-match interview after his team’s goalless draw against Odisha FC, further debunked rumours that he isn’t too fond of youngster Sahal Abdul Samad and revealed that he has promised to the youngster that he will develop him into the best midfielder in the country.

Talking about Sahal’s performance in the match, Schattorie heaped praise on the 22-year-old for his shift and addressed his rumoured rift with Sahal – something he also did during the pre-match press conference for the same match. “One thing that really irritates me is that people think I don’t like Sahal. You have to be critical. He did fantastically today and step by step, we will get him where I want him. The first day I met him, I told him I am going to make you the best midfielder in India. So, the relationship between us is good. If I change him during matches, it’s for a reason and today he did brilliantly, and so did the rest,” the Dutchman stated.

The Kerala boss also defended winger Prasanth K and noted that fans needed to have patience with youngsters. “Prasanth K didn’t do well last game but today he was fantastic. You need to give the youngsters time and not be so critical.”

For Kerala, Sahal probably produced the brightest moment of the match in the 35th minute as he went on a marauding run, skipping past multiple opponent players, and was only stopped inside the box by what seemed like an unfair challenge by Narayan Das. Despite the vociferous appeals, the referee waved play on. Asked about the potentially match-changing moment, the Dutchman opined that it surely was and quipped that the referees definitely needed to be kinder to him that they have been till now.

“Even if we forget about the penalty, I am very proud of the boys. Despite the setbacks we had this season, we did well. Jairo Rodrigues was playing with an injection. We had an injury to Messi up front. Bartholomew Ogbeche, from yesterday morning 5AM to late evening, he was at the hospital. He had food poisoning and was completely dehydrated. If we look at the game today, I think we should have had a penalty, we had the better chances. I don’t think Odisha had even one chance. I am very happy with the point and proud of the team,” he added.

On the same note, when quizzed if the upcoming international break might be just what the team needed to recuperate and reorganize, Schattorie remarked, “Yes, but it is only two weeks. There are a few injuries which may take longer. There are a few issues and I am not trying to find excuses. We had good organization today, played with just two foreigners and played well. Yes, the break is welcome but at the same time it doesn’t solve all of them.”

Read the Match Report here.

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