The Blasters head coach points out that they played their second game in four days.

The season started with a bang for the Kerala Blasters but they stumbled in the second match against Mumbai City FC, losing 0-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. A late Amine Chermiti strike meant that the Islanders go home with all three points from their Indian Super League opener.

Eelco Schattorie, who was evidently disappointed after the match did not shy away from taking the blame for his side’s drab performance. He said, “I take full responsibility for the loss. My first two changes were good but I took a risk with the third one as I wanted to go for the three points. I put Sahal on the left side to put the ball behind Messi or Ogbeche. But it didn’t work.”

“I think playing two games in a short time was a factor. My left centre back played with two injections. The other centre back was not fully fit., The fluidity was not there. I think Mumbai was pretty poor to get away with three points, was very lucky. I would have been happy with a draw and four points after two games would be fantastic,” the Dutch tactician added.

There were questions over Bilal Khan’s performances as the former Real Kashmir custodian was nervous in both the games he featured for the ISL outfit. However, Eelco decided to back his players.

“I am very clear if a player needs to play then I give him full support. He did not have a goalkeeper coach before this. We have to work with him and he will improve. I feel TP (Rehenesh) will recover fast and be back for the next game.”

Match Highlights: Kerala Blasters 0-1 Mumbai City FC

When quizzed about the lack of creativity in midfield, Eelco emphasised the importance of having someone like Mario Arques. The dutchman also stated the problems his club is facing with multiple injuries and niggles.

He added, “Yeah if you lose Mario [Arques] who is a very creative player, of course, this is a concern. Even today against Mumbai I don’t think they played well at all. But missing a crucial player makes a difference. You have to work with what you have. You cannot have a magic wand and do as you like.”

“Sahal is a very creative player but he has never played in competitive football before last season. He is in the national team but the attention he gets is too much. I am happy with him but he still needs to fit in the system and be creative on the right moments.”

“Mario (Arques) is gone for 3-4 weeks. We have a goalkeeper out. Our centre backs will catch up. It is a process and you cannot say two or three games and things will be fine. KP (Rahul) had a good game Prasanth also played well. It is a process,” Eelco Schattorie concluded.