'It is a privilege working with Vukomanović': Sipović credits gaffer's impact ahead of new season

Enes Sipović was a towering presence in the Chennaiyin FC backline in the seventh edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), striking up a partnership with Brazilian Eli Sabia. He registered 49 tackles, 30 blocks and 79 clearances in 18 appearances last season.

Prior to the start of the 2021-22 season, he switched allegiances to southern rivals Kerala Blasters FC, and the centre-back has been a regular feature for his new club in pre-season games.

Sipović caught up with www.indiansuperleague.com to share his experience with the Blasters thus far and provide a few insights on the mood in the Kerala camp ahead of the upcoming season.

The Bosnian’s first season in India was spent playing behind closed doors and living in a biosecure bubble due to COVID19 restrictions. Looking back at a unique experience, he said, “My first season in ISL was special because of the bubble. It was my first time playing all season in this way. With being in quarantine for 2 weeks and having only a few days to prepare for the first game in the championship, it was tough.”

Much like Sipović, head coach Ivan Vukomanović is also a fresh addition to the Blasters this season, and the Serbian gaffer, who was also a defender back in his playing days, has induced a feeling of unity among the squad, shared Sipović.

“Coach Ivan has played and coached football at the top level, his relationship with all players, it’s amazing. He dedicates a lot of time to each player and for me, as a defender, it’s a privilege to work with him. As you said he played in the position that gives me the advantage to find easy solutions during my game because he has seen all of that already,” revealed the 31-year-old, acknowledging the positive impact the manager has had on the team.

The Blasters have shored things up at the back this season, roping in Marko Lešković, Hormipam Ruivah, Harmanjot Khabra along with the inclusion of Sipović. Talking about the chemistry between the defensive unit at the club, he remarked, “Marko Lešković is a great football player, his experience and quality will help us a lot. We speak the same language and from the first day, our connection is very good. I would also like to mention other players playing in our position (Abdul) Hakku, Hormi (Hormipam Ruivah) and Bijoy (Varghese). We all have great communication on the field and outside.”

Having played in several countries across different continents, Sipović has had a journeyman career. His ability to adjust to different leagues is commendable and the experience he has acquired would be a great asset for KBFC.

Talking about his role as a senior member of the squad, he said, “I look at my role here in Kerala Blasters as a player who comes to help. The most important are Indian players, they will bring success to our team. As a foreigner, I will be the ‘tool’ that will help them in that way.”

A major miss for the Bosnian would be the experience of interacting with the passionate, die-hard Blasters’ faithful. But he has witnessed glimpses of the love that fans tend to shower their club with, during the pre-season training camp in Kerala.

“My message to our lovely fans is that we will give our best to not disappoint them and to make them proud. Because of the corona (COVID-19) issue, we as players wearing Kerala Blasters jerseys have the responsibility to make them happy at home and to help them to pass through this period,” added Sipović, appreciating the love that the Manjappada have given him.

Kerala Blasters FC kick off their campaign on 19th November 2021 against ATK Mohun Bagan at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.

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