Impossible in nothing. This phrase is in itself an exaggeration. But Kerala Blasters FC fans can be excused for feeling like this at various points in the past three seasons. 

Led by Serbian head coach Ivan Vukomanovic, the Kerala Blasters have gone from regular underachievers to dreamers and now to serious contenders. 

After several false dawns, the sun is finally out in its full glory and smiling on the Kerala Blasters and some may choose to call it by the name of Ivan Vukomanovic. 

Detractors will jump to call this an exaggeration again as neither Vukomanovic nor the Blasters have any tangible accolades to prove that the Kerala Blasters are indeed part of the elite but the reinvigorated passion and emotions in the stands of the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi tell a story. 

Kerala Blasters FC still remain without a major silverware but they are no longer without hope. A hope that the day when their beloved team will stand atop the podium as the others watch in awe isn’t too far away. 

The hope isn’t built on a one-off performance that lasts long in memory, but on the various brick walls that Vukomanovic has helped the Blasters break in the last few years, 

The 46-year-old is the longest-serving head coach in Kochi and the only one to have guided the Blasters to back-to-back playoff appearances and is on course for a threepeat this season. 

The Serbian has also turned their home form around, another issue plaguing the Blasters. They have a 69% win record under his tenure up from 36% before his arrival. 

He has also facilitated the transition of a lot of young players from the team’s youth ranks to the first team with the likes of Sachin Suresh, Mohammed Aimen and Mohammad Azhar now becoming an integral part of the first team squad. 

The 2023-24 season too has been a step up from the Blasters as compared to last season as they have managed to sustain a challenge for the League Shield going into the final stretch of the season. This becomes a bigger feat considering the number of injuries the Blasters have suffered during the season. They have lost talisman Adrian Luna to a long-term injury and have missed several other key players at various junctures in the season but the level of their performances has remained the same. 

“We have never had the same dynamic in the team due to injuries and we have had to keep changing our plans with every injury. But we have stayed positive with an aim to do our best in every match and make the fans proud and that attitude has helped us,” Vukomanovic said during a recent press conference addressing the issue. 

The Serbian now takes his Kerala Blasters FC side to Bengaluru to face arch-rivals Bengaluru FC. The Yellow Army have never won at the Sree Kanteerava stadium and that was also the venue for their painful and eventful exit from the ISL playoffs last season losing 1-0 to Bengaluru FC. 

The defeat raised question marks on the Serbian’s position for the manner of their loss but he has come back stronger this season reiterating that he remains the best man for the job for the short and long term. 

After a very long time, the Kerala Blasters will go into Bengaluru feeling they have a real chance to end their winless run at the home of their rivals and take a big step towards the League Shield by winning this encounter. 

The game on Saturday thus presents Vukomanovic with a golden chance of breaking another ceiling at Kerala Blasters and adding another feather to his cap. A win over Bengaluru FC in Bengaluru that will see them complete a double over their rivals for the first time, boost their chances of winning the League Shield and push the Blues further away from a playoff spot would be a sweet enough outcome for those in yellow to bury the memories of last year when the Blues knocked the Blasters out of the playoffs in painful fashion. 

Vukomanovic has underlined the need for his players to have a win-it-all mentality ahead of the final league games in the pre-match press conference before the Bengaluru FC game. He knows that the time has come for his team to take that next leap in their progress and peak at the right time. 

A win over Bengaluru FC in Bengaluru would just be the perfect fuel for the Blasters’ title charge, a task that they have so far found to be impossible in the ISL. 

But with Vukomanovic at the helm, determined to prove a point, impossible is nothing. Isn’t it?