The Dutchman spoke in detail about talented youngsters he worked with in Indian football so far.
As the conversation with Anant Tyagi progressed further, Eelco Schattorie gave more interesting insights on Indian football. Moreover, Sahal Abdul Samad is not the only promising youngster that Eelco Schattorie had to groom. Tyagi reminded the Dutchman that he offered debuts to five new players in his time with Kerala Blasters. The coach was keen to speak on all of them and he provided an individual briefing on each of them.
He mentioned, “I will give you a very good example of Samuel (Lalmuanpuia), who I think is one of the best players in Indian football. I really don’t care how big or small but there is needed some physicality to football. In fact, I think that ISL is a very physical league.”
“My plan with Samuel was to bring him in some games from where he is in a position to change them. He changed the game against Jamshedpur when we were 2-0, he came on and we got to 2-2.”
“But for him to be somebody who can play 90 minutes, he needs to build physicality. Last year at NEUFC with Nikhil Kadam, I told him to build upper body because he was being pushed off the ball. Redeem (Tlang) has some physicality there.”
“It doesn’t mean player needs only physicality. You have to be smarter to work your way around it.”
Speaking on Jessel Carneiro, he said, “If I look at Jessel, he is not that young. He is 29-30 years old. He played last two seasons in Goa (Pro) League that is even below than the I-League. Initially, I was scared for his pace, his speed. But, the way he learnt and picked up things, I looked at that and it was fantastic. He made some mistakes too but he made a few assists. His ability to pick up things was great.”
“Jeakson has a very good future but needs to get more winning mentality. He has the technical aspect, the brain and the body, but that ruthlessness needs to be there too.”
He later heaped praise on the lad by saying, “He’s so serious. His eating, sleeping before the game is so perfectly organized. He has got the best attitude.”
The coach continued, “Rahul KP, I really wish I could have had him for a longer time. That is because he got injured. In the first two games (Halicharan) Narzary played. KP got his chance and he did well afterwards. But, against Bengaluru he got the injury and hence couldn’t play later. He has a tremendous shot on goal. If you let him shoot 10 times, he will shoot it on target on seven out of 10 times. He has huge potential.”
But, Schattorie wasn’t similarly impressed with the custodians that his team possessed. He said, “The goalkeepers, all three were not good enough. TP, he came to Kerala. He was with me at NorthEast and didn’t play many games there. TP is a thrill seeker.”
“He makes mistakes where he should be learning from them. The two goalkeepers were good but aren’t experienced. Like Bilal (Khan) was very nervous in the first two games. He made two-three mistakes against Hyderabad but is normal too because playing as a goalkeeper is not an easy task.”
Furthermore, Tyagi proceeded to ask the Dutchman to name his favourite Indian player from the league.
The 48-year-old revealed, “I am really attracted to who I think is huge potential, Ashique Kuruniyan…I will tell why his name is stuck with me. When India was playing the Asian Cup in early 2019, in one of the games he played as a striker. The way he was holding the ball upfront, that really showed me that he has a lot of potential. I don’t know how mentally strong he is because he didn’t have the best of seasons. But, I really like him.”
“I also really like Brandon (Fernandes) from Goa. He is a player who was really effective with his assists and everything. The third would be Rowllin Borges. There was criticism with Borges when he was in NEUFC regarding that he was not giving enough despite having so much talent. However, the first thing I noticed in training was that he has the scoring ability.”
“The amount of times he showed on the box at right time, in the right position was excellent. I really think I have to be careful when I say this but he is a bit like Kevin de Bruyne. When, I see the style and quality I can compare them a little bit; to play box to box, have good passing abilities, can assist, and score goals. He is one of my favourites.”
Eelco Schattorie was then insisted to describe the time he spent coaching NorthEast United. He had taken the Highlanders to a fourth-place finish in the 2018/19 season.
So the gaffer asserted, “NorthEast was also a special experience. Specially, they have beautiful fans, almost every game, after the game they had beautiful banner, drawings. So thank you for that, they were beautiful. I also liked the region and the NorthEast is a beautiful region. But the journey there was different than this year. And as I said, I always like to be honest but sometimes I also have to be careful with what I say of course.”
“In the end, we had a fantastic journey because the players and me, we had some challenges but we really stuck together and with the feeling of whatever challenge we are going to get. The NorthEast journey was a really special one and I think the result that we got was a good one.”
“I really hated that the first semi-final we lost Bart and Borges and that broke us. There wasn’t enough quality, deep squad to continue but overall it was a fantastic journey. People ask me why did you leave NorthEast. The answer is simple. The management didn’t renew my contract but that is what it was.”
Tyagi pointed out and praised Eelco’s straightforwardness and the coach had a counter argument to that, too.
He replied, “People think I am a difficult person, I am not a difficult person at all. People think I am animated. Yes, I am animated but I get animated when I feel injustice and there are moments where that injustice I can accept and there are moments where I say this is not how it should be and I have to stand up. All my teams where I have worked, we always showed passion, we showed fighting spirit.”
“Even this year, there were few comebacks where you can see the spirit is there. So, I am not a difficult person but I really believe in honesty because if you really want to be professional you say it as it is. Otherwise, there is no space for improvement.”
“Having said that, my wife tells me many times to be diplomatic and I really try but the deepest inside me I am all about improving and trying to get better. Diplomacy is not my strongest part but I do think that in the end that I improved there and I am not a difficult person at all. I am just honest that’s how I see it.”
The topic of the discussion then shifted towards the ISL running a poll to let the fans opt for their most favorite goal of the season. Eelco Schattorie was asked about the goals that personally stood out for him and he had quite a few alternatives for the same.
“The goal of the season for me was against Goa where we had 24 passes and killed it off with a fantastic goal. Now, remarks were made. ‘Fine but you lost.’ True, true but I also know the reason why we lost.”
He further elaborated, “So for me, that was for me personally, my favorite goal of the season. It fits most of my philosophy of play. I really loved the goal. Unfortunately I wasn’t coaching, I was on the sidelines against Chennaiyin when Jessel played a long cross where Bart right at the beginning of the second half made a slide and put the ball in.
“I found that as a very beautiful goal. The corner we played against Hyderabad at 2-1; the tricky corner that we scored. There was another free-kick in Chennai at 1-1, the way it was executed. Bart scored that goal. Thapa against Goa; that shot in the high corner was a beautiful goal. These are just on the top of my head but there are a lot of beautiful goals to be honest.”
Somewhere in the middle of this interaction, Eelco Schattorie was also asked to comment on the ever-supportive Manjappada. “There are so many people involved with the club, passionate about football. It’s brilliant. You feel how much they are involved with the team, but fans should also understand results don’t come overnight. During tough times, the club needs its fans.”
“It’s not easy to cater to the expectations of such a huge fanbase. I want the connection and I try to explain to them what I am trying to accomplish as much as I can. I think the majority of the fanbase is behind me and they are fantastic.”
Eelco Schattorie endured a rough time with Kerala Blasters right from the very start, but the club’s inefficiency on certain quarters has led to their drawbacks too. However, the Blasters have shunted into a tendency of changing coaches at the drop of a hat and a similar pattern could transpire when they make an official announcement on Eelco’s future with the club.”