Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters on Wednesday announced Mohun Bagan’s I-League winning coach Kibu Vicuna as their new head coach for the upcoming season after parting ways with Eelco Schattorie earlier in the day.
Vicuna recently led Mohun Bagan to their second I-League title with four rounds to spare before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bagan were later officially declared winners with the remaining 28 matches of the I-League called off following the extension of the lockdown in India.
The Spaniard did not have his contract renewed with the Mariners who had earlier announced their merger with ISL club ATK midway during the season. ATK, who won the ISL for the third time, had made it clear that Antonio Lopez Habas would remain the coach of their side.
Dutchman Schattorie was in charge of the Kochi-based outfit in the ISL 2019-20 and could only guide the club to a poor seventh-place finish.
“Kerala Blasters FC have parted ways with the Head Coach, Eelco Schattorie. We’d like to thank Eelco for his efforts and services during his tenure and wish him the best for the future,” Kerala Blasters had tweeted earlier in the day.
The 48-year-old first landed on Indian shores when he took over Kolkata-based Prayag United back in 2012. He went on to win the IFA Shield and guided the team to a fourth-placed finish in the I-League.
After serving as the head coach for Kolkata giants East Bengal for the 2015 season, he joined Avram Grant’s NorthEast United setup for parts of the 2016 ISL season, before taking over as head coach for the 2018-’19 campaign.
In his very first season as a head coach in the ISL, Schattorie showcased immense tactical guile and took Guwahati-based NorthEast United to the semi-finals for the first time since the club’s inception, before being knocked out by eventual champions Bengaluru FC.
After leading the NorthEast United to their best-ever campaign in the club’s history, Schattorie replaced Nelo Vingada as the Kerala Blasters head coach heading into ISL 2019-’20.
The Dutchman, however, could not replicate the same success in Kerala which he had achieved with the NorthEast United as several factors came into play.
A host of recurring injuries to key players, including a season-long one to stopper Sandesh Jhingan, severely handicapped Kerala’s campaign as they finished seventh on the table with 19 points from 18 matches.
Despite not making the top four, Schattorie’s Kerala side found a lot of admirers for their free-flowing, attacking style of football.