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ISL 2018-19: Eelco Schattorie - NorthEast United will go into the game as pit bulls

17:55 GMT+3 19/02/2019
Eelco Schattorie NorthEast United
Schattorie feels Pune City's 5-3-2 formation has made them unpredictable...

A win against Pune City on Wednesday will seal a playoff spot for NorthEast United in the 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) semi-finals.

It would be a first for the Highlanders n the history of the five-year-old competition.

However, NorthEast head coach Eelco Schattorie prefers to focus on one game at a time.  "I didn't mention anything to the players about qualifying. I really take it game by game because if I look back at the last 10 games, the number of times I had to shuffle to make a best possible 11, it was almost 10 games," he stated.

"Last week at Mumbai, we had a similar situation. We won 2-0 but I think Mumbai had over 50 per cent of the ball possession and that normally doesn't happen - we play more (with the ball). Mumbai's last line of defence was weakened and I think that was our luck.

"Our tactics were spot on offensively. That was how it was supposed to be, but it is not like I'm sitting here with the full conviction that everything is going to be fine. That's what I mean by I'm looking at it game by game," the Dutchman reasoned.

NorthEast United have replaced the injured Mislav Komorski with Janeiler Rivas. Although Schattorie wasn't in a position to ascertain whether or not the Colombian will start on Wednesday, he was confident of fielding a competitive side against FC Pune City.

"We have a new player on the team. The question mark is his fitness. It's very difficult in a short time to know how far (fit) he is but I'm happy that at least we have an extra defender. On top of that, I think we have over almost six injuries in the team. In the last few days, we trained with only 17 players.

"I am full of confidence that we are going to go into the game as 11 pit bulls wanting to win the game. We need to win this game and we'll see what happens after that," he said.

Analysing FC Pune City as an opponent, the former East Bengal coach has categorically picked on the side's tactical formation.

"If you win four times and draw once, that means you are doing something right, but many people forget that Pune is the only team in the league that plays 5-3-2. Almost all teams play 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 which means it is very predictable. You get used to playing that style and you suddenly have to play a different style that is difficult for many other teams on a tactical level. It doesn't mean that that's the only reason but I think that it plays a big role," Schattorie observed.

"They got away a few times with some lucky goals. I remember against ATK and Bengaluru when the ball gets deflected (into the back of the net). But again, if you win games, that brings confidence. It's a difficult team and they are in a winning mood. I have prepared the team as well as possible against their formation because that needs understanding. 50 per cent of any game is organisation and I think we are ready for that."

The 47-year-old also went on to dismiss any stakes NorthEast United may have created for themselves with their impressive away record.

If I look at statistics, there is almost no individual statistic for us. We are almost highest everywhere - passing rate, conceded goals, etc. - like in four or five statistics, we are in the top five. That shows our strength. I always emphasise that we don't have that depth or a lot of individual quality that can make a difference.

"Yesterday (Monday) I saw Goa - their left winger (Brandon Fernandes) gave that fantastic cross. The number of crosses that we put in this season and the amount of goals we got from that is low. So, overall, I don't see a difference in winning away or at home. A little bit unlucky, I think, because there were a few home games that we could have won. We could have won against Bengaluru. So there is nothing specific."