NorthEast United recently created history as they qualified for the Indian Super League (ISL) play-offs for the very first time in the history of the club. After booking their berth in the semifinals, they now play their final match of the league stage against Kerala Blasters on Friday.
Even though the team has already made it to the play-offs, coach Eelco Schattorie is no mood to take the final league game lightly.
He said, “First of all, I mentioned a few times this season that our squad depth is not that great which means we do not have a big group. At this moment we have five injuries. Today we just had 18 players on the field.
“Out of those, two are suspended that leaves us with 16. Out of those, three have three yellow cards that mean I cannot play them because that's a risk going into the play-offs. Out of the remaining 13 players, four of them have never played this season and so they lack match fitness.
“But I am happy that we qualified. I had the fear that we would have to go all out in the last game but now that we have qualified, we don't have to do that. But I want to win tomorrow (Friday) and prepare ourselves for the play-offs.”
The Dutch coach was all praise for Kerala Blasters and mentioned that the team has improved leaps and bounds under new coach Nelo Vingada.
“Kerala are way more organised now from what I had seen them the first time. They play more attacking football. I like their midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad. He is my kind of player. He is creative and takes the initiative. Offensively and defensively they look stable. They have made great progress.”
When asked if he wants to face any particular team in the play-offs, the NorthEast boss said, “I don’t really care which team I will face in the play-offs. We have already played Bengaluru FC twice. At our home, they equalised in the last minute and in the away game. they won but we created many chances. Three penalties were not given.
“Maybe you can say that we want Bengaluru to set some records straight. But in general, it doesn't matter. Mumbai City FC and FC Goa are also great teams. Most important thing is that I am missing Jose Leudo at the moment due to suspension. First thing I am worried about is tomorrow's (Friday) game.”