Kerala Blasters head coach Eelco Schattorie has asserted that he is happy to have fan-favourite Sahal Abdul Samad in the team despite giving him fewer playing minutes in the last three matches. Moreover, the coach blamed the defensive lapses in the losing games and the injury concerns.
Under heavy pressure, Kerala Blasters will host newcomers Odisha FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday. After their win against ATK in the season opener, the southern tuskers lost to Mumbai City and Hyderabad. Moreover, the key players in the squad are out with injuries as well.
However, the passionate Kerala fans are not happy with Eelco Schattorie's decision to give fewer playing minutes for last season's emerging player Sahal Abdul Samad. The Indian international midfielder has only played 78 minutes in three games this season had a brilliant assist for KP Rahul against Hyderabad. However, Schattorie asserted that he is happy to have Sahal in the team and revealed why he is left out in the previous games.
“I will always support talent. Certain people may think the head coach doesn’t like Sahal. I emphasize, in big capital letters, that I am very very happy to have him in my team. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at the reality. Sahal comes from a football school in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, I think, never played competitive football in his life before this. He has an amazing creative ability which is pure intuition. Fitting someone like him into the system takes time. I worked with a few similar talents last season (at NorthEast). It takes time to incorporate these boys in the team,” Eelco Schattorie told reporters at the pre-match press conference. ISL website reported.
“In the game against Mumbai, I told Sahal first do your defensive duties and when you get the opportunity, use your creativity. In the last match, he made a mistake. We didn’t lose the match because of him but these small things matter. I have discussed it with Sahal himself, so it’s not like I am criticizing him. There’s nothing negative about it because that’s football. I reiterate I am very happy with Sahal and people questioning that are not supporters. I will always try and stimulate talent. There’s not one player in the team who thinks I don’t trust him,” he further elaborated.
Kerala conceded four goals in three games and all the goals came from set-pieces and the coach pointed out the same mistake. “Most of the goals we conceded were from set-pieces. In the Mumbai game, two players didn’t do their defensive duty from a throw-in. It’s not a blame but things we could have avoided. In the last match (against Hyderabad), it was exactly the same. If basic structures are not in place, you will suffer. We should have won the last match. We should have mentally stood up and won that game.” the Dutch coach said.
Schattorie was also vocal about the injury concerns at Blasters. However, the coach hopes for a win or even a draw before going to the international break.
“Our wingers at the moment are not very stable. In our midfield, we are missing a key player who can take the game to the opposition. In defence, we lost, in the last game, Gianni Zuiverloon, who does the build-up. So, we also lost a key player there. At this moment, it’s all about surviving and creating stability by working hard. Let me emphasize on the fact that in all three games, the players gave their heart and everything they had.” the 47-year-old coach said.
“I am happy to survive this game with three points or maybe one and get to the break. Hopefully, we will get some time to recover. Hopefully, in the coming game, we can stick together, get the support from the fans and get through this to get into the break,” he added.
29-year-old Jessel Carneiro was also present with the coach who was signed in the place of injured Sandesh Jhingan for his first ISL expressed his excitement “I was waiting for a chance to play in the Hero ISL and now I have an opportunity with Kerala Blasters to prove myself and show what I can do,” Jessel said.
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