Schattorie: Won't sit back, will take the game to Goa

Kerala Blasters FC take on FC Goa in Match 29 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. Kerala have registered just one point since their opening day victory over ATK and will be eager to put an end to the winless run with a triumph over the Gaurs at home.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Kerala head coach Eelco Schattorie promised that his side will be looking to play on the front foot despite facing an attacking side like Goa. “It’s a home game, so I don’t think they will catch me sitting back. In the last game also, the first-half we tried to press Bengaluru and we will try to do the same to Goa. With Vlatko (Drobarov) coming in, we have a little more quality at the back to build up. These small extras make a difference but, in the end, I try to win and be progressive.”

“My young players are making progress like Jeakson (Singh) and Rahul (KP), all of them have made progress. And it takes time. When the senior players join in you can see a lift in the training sessions. But like I said, I’m not a coach who will sit back. I will, if I have to, if certain situations demand it. But we will try to take the game to them,” he added.

The biggest issue for Kerala this season has been injuries to key players. Elucidating on the matter, the Dutchman informed, “(Regarding the injuries) Not much has changed. The Goa coach (Sergio Lobera) said that we have a team that can play for the championship and I totally agree with him. If we had all our star players like Sandesh (Jhingan), (Gianni) Zuiverloon, Mario Arques we would have a good chance. Hopefully in the next two weeks Mario will be back. He is medically fit but physically it is always difficult when you have had such a run of injuries. He has trained for a week now and hopefully he will be back soon.”

Asked if he and the team was under pressure following their run of underwhelming results, the 47-year-old responded, “What annoys me is that in India people live by the day. When a team wins, everything is fantastic and if you lose, it is not good. I am arrogant enough to say that my team, when fully fit, can compete for the top four. Now we are in a situation where it is more difficult, but we are going to compete. We are only five games into the season, and anything can happen. If we win on Sunday, we will be just below Goa. They have eight and we will have seven points.”

He added, “If our team is fit then we would have no fear of facing any team. At this stage we are still trying to get everyone fit. We are still in survival mode. I think the last game against Bengaluru we played very well. We had the right intensity and willpower, but we have been unlucky. We will keep going, working hard and against Goa, we will go for the three points.”

The Kerala defence, on Sunday, will be up against a very potent Goa attack, possibly led by Hero ISL’s top goal scorer Ferran Corominas. Shedding some light on how he has been preparing his defence for the upcoming challenge, Schattorie said, “We are an aggressive team. We are working on improving our set piece defending. Most of the goals we conceded, came from set-pieces. We have made a lot of progress. We are not open, we are aggressive. But playing against the top striker (Ferran Corominas) is always hard. That’s why he is the top scorer in the league.”

Joining Schattorie at the briefing was defender Vlatko Drobarov, who only recently joined the team, replacing the injured Jairo Rodrigues. The Macedonian, speaking about the upcoming match, stated, “Well, I don’t know much about FC Goa because came two weeks ago. But they cannot come to our home and take something from us. We will fight for the three points. We must listen to the coach’s instructions and I think we will be good.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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