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Under pressure NorthEast United coach hopes to make it ISL play-offs


NEUFC is the only team not to have qualified for the play-offs so far. (Representational Image)

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NorthEast United head coach Eelco Schattorie Saturday admitted that his side not making the Indian Super League play-offs in the four previous edition puts him under huge pressure but said he’s not losing hope of doing so this time. The Guwahati-based side finished at the bottom in the 10-team league in 2017 with only three wins out of 18 matches, forcing a complete overhaul this year. NEUFC is the only team not to have qualified for the play-offs so far.

“Taj Mahal was not made in a day, it took a long, long time. If you want to build something it takes time,” Schattorie told reporters on the sidelines of the ISL Media Day. Schattorie was in-charge of the franchise as assistant coach to Avram Grant who has been made technical advisor while former Dempo coach Arthur Papas is also part of the coaching set up.

The current composition of NorthEast United squad is a mix of good foreign players with several talented yet inexperienced Indians. “If you have never qualified, you are asked to do so. Yeah, there is huge pressure on me. I believe lower budget and low-quality players don’t matter in football. Everything is possible,” the former East Bengal and United coach said.

The team has recruited some good foreign players including former PSG striker Batholomew Ogbeche. Moreover, the average age of the team is much lesser compared to previous seasons.

“I do not have a Mini Cooper or a Ferrari with me,” he said referring to the club’s limited resources. “But my team will always try to win. I want to be progressive, not negative. There is no time to look back. We want to be a united team and try to make that goal realistic one. The young players tend to have a trajectory of being very good one day, and lacklustre on some other day. It’s about bringing consistency.”

Poor results have led to a lot of changes in coaching personnel in the recent past but the Dutchman is not worried. “If I start thinking about that, better I pack my bags and go home. I always had this belief to be positive. I really enjoy the day I’m on the field. I have no control what is outside. I have a good relationship with the owners, you never know what tomorrow brings. I’m just focused on my goal,” he said.

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