Fighting spirit instilled by Ivan Vukomanovic helped us overcome opponents and Covid-19: Kerala Blasters FC’s Jeakson Singh

Kerala Blasters FC’s dwindling fortune in the past few seasons had pushed their passionate fans into frustration, where promises at the start hardly reciprocated into success towards the ending stages. Constant change of coaches and personnel have backfired every single time. But, Ivan Vukomanovic’s introduction has instilled fresh vibes in the setup, which is very visible to eye and has impacted the Blasters’ campaign positively.

Jeakson Singh, who stormed into the scene with India’s first ever goal in a FIFA tournament, during the 2017 U17 World Cup, has come a long way since his breakthrough. After stints with Indian Arrows and Kerala Blasters FC reserves, he finally played alongside the big boys of the Yellow Army in the Hero ISL 2019-20. Despite the club's poor results, the midfielder has managed to develop himself as a top footballer and is now a vital cog in their setup.

In his third season with the Hero ISL side, the hard work has finally paid-off, as the team is eyeing a semi-final spot for the first time in five seasons. Jeakson, having already seen the ups and downs at his club, is well aware of the positivity injected by the head coach, which is working wonders for them at present.

“The thing that the coach injected into the system, I think, is the fighting spirit. No matter what happens, stay together and fight together and that is helping us a lot,” said Jeakson Singh, during an interview with theHero ISL media team.

Just taking care of football is not enough these days, especially with the Covid-19 scare still looming over. Desperate times need desperate measures. With several players injured, matches postponed and training sessions gone for a toss, the Blasters’ camp was sailing through rough waters midway through the season. However, the captain of the ship has always made them believe that they were going to make it through.

“It was a really difficult time (quarantine period). The players who returned a Covid-19 positive test, I think it was even worse for them, but the league has not finished. If we don't do well in the remaining matches, what we did in the previous matches won't count. I think it (the previous wins) won't make a difference. So, I think we have to continue like before. We have to come back and we have to work hard and try to fight for the trophy,” added the midfielder.

Adrian Luna - one of the best purchases in the Hero ISL 2021-22 is Jeakson’s partner in crime in the playmaking zone and undoubtedly, the Uruguayan has pushed the Indian to do even better. The former Indian Arrows player has been making some useful contributions in the attack as well, having already scored and assisted once each this season.

“It is a big pleasure for me to play with (Adrian) Luna. He has all the qualities and the work rate he puts in every match is unbelievable I think. There are a lot of things we can learn from him.”

Jeakson has been a rock in the midfield and one of the top performers in his position in the competition. With an average of close to 40 passes per game, at an accuracy of 86.11%, he acts like a glue between the attacking zone and the defence. That goes along with his defensive exploits, as he made 62 tackles, 33 interceptions, 16 clearances and 22 blocks so far. It is not an overnight process, but years of toiling to develop the required skills.

“I think the quality a world-class defensive midfielder needs to have is vision, adding the quality on the ball, communicating with all and the awareness. I think that's the quality a world class defensive midfielder should have.”

Kerala Blasters FC have conceded the least number of goals (12) from 13 matches this season till now, an area in which they have improved immensely. For instance, they shipped in 36 goals last season in their quota of 20 matches. Once again, sticking together as a unit has done the trick, and of course the players have taken more responsibility for the performances.

“I think it (conceding less goals) is all because of the hard work we’ve put in together, in the training and in the match. Whenever someone makes a mistake, we all try to cover up, we all try to support the team and always stay together and stay compact. That’s why we have conceded less goals,” stated the footballer.

Kerala Blasters FC are placed in the second position in the league table, with 23 points from 13 matches. At least three wins from their remaining matches should be enough for them to qualify for the semi-finals. Jeakson Singh’s immediate goal is to help his team win their first ever Hero ISL trophy, but for the long term - he is keeping himself grounded, hoping to learn new things, improve as much as a player and push his limits to the farthest extent.

“There are plenty of things to improve for me. In life, there is no end to learning. Everyday is a new day and there are a lot of things to learn. I will try to improve as much as possible,” signed off Jeakson.

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