The Kerala Blasters-Bengaluru FC rivalry has seen more heated exchanges off-the-pitch, than on-field blows. The two sides have locked horns five times and the Blues have won four matches while drawing on another occassion. But the yellow fans can hope that their dismal record might change for the better on Saturday, as Eelco Schattorie claimed that he knows the recipe to beat Bengaluru.
"We (NorthEast United) played Bengaluru four times in the previous season. The results were positive. In the last match, we were without Federico (Gallego) and (Rowllin) Borges. But I know exactly how to beat them. I know where their weaknesses are. But their strength is that they are a top club. They have been always up there. So structurally they are doing something very well and they have got the right formula. They have a strong mentality. All credit to the coach, for being able to score some set-pieces. Even when you are not playing well, you win because you score some set-pieces," stated the Dutch tactician.
Although Blasters have little to play for but pride, Schattorie will field the strongest possible XI that can win him the three points.
"I will put up the best possible lineup that will give me the best chance to win. We are not here for charity, we are playing professional football. We always try to go for a win. So we will go for the three points in both matches. Having said that, since there is no guarantee of a qualification spot, it is more difficult to motivate someone. Ogbeche is very important to the dressing room. He has played at the highest level and he knows how important it is to play for the supporters, for the contract. Rest assured, I will do everything I can to get the three points."
He heaped praise on Jessel Carneiro and Sergio Cidoncha as he thinks that these two players have progressed the most.
"Jessel has improved a lot. He played last year in Goa league, not even in I-League. He learned real fast. He is a fantastic personality and has progressed a lot. Many of them have progressed but when you don't get results, the progress of some individuals gets ignored. Not only Indians, but foreigners have also improved a lot. Cidoncha has been playing in a new position. He is used to play just behind the striker. He has now effectively, slotted in his new position. But Jessel's progress has been remarkable.
"Messi's signing received a lot of criticism as he hadn't scored much in his previous club. We worked a lot on his positioning. And after four-five matches, he started doing well. It is about finding the right combination be it midfield or defense. You need that consistency," explained the coach.
Schattorie also thanked the fans for their support and said, "Fans see the positives that I do. I try to communicate with them. It is important. They have the right to know what a coach is doing. I try to give as much information as possible. Hope they respect it. I am very happy with them."
Bartholomew Ogbeche has been in fine form this season, netting 11 times and notching up an assist in 14 matches. He feels that in spite of playing with a new squad, Blasters have done reasonably well.
"It does take time to know each other. A new team takes time to get results. We have a fantastic team, good players, good humans, both on and off the pitch. Unfortunately, some of the key players got injured. I am sure that the management will do what is best for the club in the future," stated the former NorthEast United striker.