Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic wants a reaction from his team as they look to bounce back from back-to-back defeats at the hands of Mumbai City FC and FC Goa when they take on NorthEast United FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi on Sunday. 

The Blasters need eleven points from their last six matches to seal a playoff berth for a second successive season and the Serbian head coach has urged his team to approach their final six matches with the right attitude. 

“During a season there are periods when things aren't going too well. That's when you have to react and no one can do that for us. It's up to us. We have six big steps to go and it's up to us to approach all those games with the correct approach and fight for the points and to secure maybe the playoff spot for the second season in a row which would be good for us in terms of our progress,” Vukomanovic said during the pre-match press conference. 

“We have to approach the NorthEast United FC game in the correct way with aggression and motivation. We have shown this season that with this attitude we can win games at home. We are up against a team that is bottom of the table but it's down to circumstances that accumulated over a period. They are not a bad team. We have to treat this match as a serious one in order to respond and get back to winning ways,” he added. 

Vukomanovic hinted that Kerala Blasters FC have always had to do it the hard way since he took over the team and believes his team are ready to fight till the final match to progress to the knockout stage in the Hero ISL. 

“Losing two back-to-back matches this season is not pleasant. I think last year too we were fighting till the last moment to get into the playoffs. It's never easy with us. We are always fighting till the last moment. Even in every match, we have had to fight till the last minute. Since last season, I don't recall us having easy games,” the Serbian said. 

“Every game for us is crucial and every game for us is a huge fight. All the teams want to give their best against Kerala Blasters FC, especially in Kochi,” he added. 

The fans have expressed concerns over Kerala Blasters FC’s desire to compete at the top end of the table but Vukomanovic reaffirmed that the club have a long-term approach when it comes to signing new players and building the club and suggested that they will stick to their vision. 

“When you find yourself as a club in a different position after a couple of years of disappointment, then you first have to find out and to analyze problems and the first step to improve it is actually saying to yourself, okay, there is a problem, how to solve it, and then work on that. In football, it never happens in a short period,” he said. 

“We want to be the team that competes at the top on a consistent basis. Kerala Blasters FC want to be known as a top-three team. Then maybe one season, we will end up with the trophy. That's how football works. But you have to plan for the long term for that to happen,” he added. 

Vukomanovic also delivered a positive update on the injury front as he opened up about the progress defender Marko Leskovic has made in his recovery process. 

“Leskovic is at the end of his recovery process. His muscles have recovered, so it's up to us now to see what kind of risk we can take and whether we can play him against NorthEast United FC or not,” he concluded.