The Dutch tactician also feels that the Kerala Blasters players played ‘good’ football.

Following Kerala Blasters’ comeback win against ATK in the league opener, the southerners’ head coach Eelco Schattorie met the press with mixed reactions regarding the game. Carl McHugh put the Kolkata side ahead in the sixth minute, before captain Bartholomew Ogbeche scored for the home side, to lead them to a 2-1 victory.

Speaking after the game, Kerala Blasters head coach Eelco Schottrie expressed his frustration at the injuries that his side were picking up as well as his satisfaction with the performance.

“I feel very frustrated in this moment, with Mario Arques. He played only 45 minutes in the whole pre-season (sic.). It was a risk to bring him inside and he is out with another injury. We lost Sandesh (Jhingan) in the pre-season and even the two centre-backs came back not fully fit. So, the only thing in pre-season I did, was to catch up and somehow get the players fit. But, like I said in the previous press conference, we are two weeks behind and it is very very difficult to make responsible decisions on who to play.”

“I think we deserved to win, I think the players showed fantastic mentality on the field even at 0-1 behind,”  the Dutchman added.

Injury To TP Rehenesh

The Blasters were also without first-choice goalkeeper, TP Rehnesh who had tweaked his ankle in training.

“I was without TP, who was supposed to start. Yesterday in training, a very innocent ball came on his foot and he switched his ankle. So, we had to change the goalkeeper,” Eelco Schattorie revealed.

Watch: Kerala Blasters Vs ATK highlights

Speaking about the game, Eelco Schattorie mentioned that he was thrilled with the three points and his side’s mentality.

“I am very very happy with the three points and the commitment that the players showed on the pitch. In the first half, we played some football. In the second half, it was more surviving, but the only way ATK became dangerous was through free-kicks,” the 47-year-old quipped.

There was a lot of buzz prior to the game over the tactician’s decision to leave Sahal Abdul Samaj out of the starting XI, replacing him with Jeckson Singh. Schattorie defended his decision fervently, saying that Samad needed a little more time to adapt.

Oh Sahal Abdul Samad’s absence

“Sahal, I think is a fantastic player,” Eelco Schattorie began before adding, “But, he was four weeks absent from the whole pre-season. It will take some time for Sahal to play the way I want to play and that is that case for a few players.”

“Jeakson actually started really good in the pre-season. He went away for national team U-19s. He came back and adjusted again. I was saying that Mario Arques could not play and I had to take a decision on what is the best balance. I think Jeakson was a little bit more prepared,” he opined.

“The boy is 18-years-old and has never played at this level. I’ve said before that I don’t mind playing young players, but they have to bring something to the table and he did,” Eelco Schattorie added.

On ATK’s Gameplay

ATK took the lead in the sixth minute of the match. When asked if his side were ever flustered in the game, Schattorie delivered a frank response.

“If you look at my history in the ISL, I have come back many times from being behind. The good thing is all the players were working hard and in the first part of the game, we were playing some very good football. I don’t think ATK was very good in their playing, but only in their set-pieces.”

Finally, the Dutch tactician was asked about the goalkeeping situation at Kerala Blasters and how it was being handled at the club.

“In my opinion, goalkeeping is a position that needs experience. At the same time, you can say that you need to start somewhere. Bilal (Khan) for instance, last year he played in the I-League. So, you can say that he has some experience, but at the same time he played in a team where they probably defended in a team, where they defended with 11 players behind the ball and didn’t have to play much football from the back,” he said.

“TP at the moment is actually my first-choice because he is more experienced. He was actually making really good progress until his injury,” Eelco Schattorie revealed.

Kerala Blasters take on Mumbai City FC in their next match on the 24th of October.