Can't complain about lost points, have to fight every inch: Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic has no complains about his team's faltering recent form and acknowledged the fact that they haven't been clinical in the couple of matches where they have dropped five points. However, he is confident ahead of their match against Chennaiyin FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Saturday.

The Blasters lost the previous match 1-2 against a top-performing Hyderabad FC side and desperately needs to win the remaining three matches to qualify for the semi-finals.

Vukomanovic addressed the media during the pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game.

Here are the excerpts from the press conference:

Every match is a potential do-or-die for Kerala Blasters FC, how do you look into the upcoming match from the standpoint of the physical and fitness level?

Vukomanovic: So, it was not easy, especially with the Covid-19 outbreak in our camp with a 15-day isolation. And with the ISL format, the rescheduling of games, actually, you don't have time to train, you don't have time to train with quality, you don't have time to have those overload sessions with the whole group. You can only train with a one small group at one point. With all these things, you have to puzzle on an individual basis, many aspects and then prepare the group.

So, if we speak about from when this year (2022) began, it was kind of an improvisation because the schedule and the calendar doesn't allow you to have that long-term vision. So you have to do game by game, use the players who are fresh, get them ready on a fitness level and that's it.

Kerala Blasters FC have struggled to maintain the tempo of the game for the first 20 minutes. Do you feel this is a concerning factor?

Vukomanovic: No, no, because now we are in the part of the season where everyone suffers a bit. And like I just mentioned, with the schedule, especially after the New Year (in 2022), with the amount of games, and not enough days for quality training sessions. And adding to that the Covid-19 outbreak, where you as a team lose many important things in your training process, then you have to manage.

Many teams were going and playing with a fresh mind in the earlier stages and now towards the end, we see many teams suffering with injuries with fitness and everything. So it's normal to see certain things. That's why we are also now trying to give playing time to all the players to be able to have fresh legs on the field. And so, we are trying to manage things like that.

Chennaiyin FC are out of the title race and will be playing without any pressure in the upcoming game. Do you think they are going to be a tough opponent?

Vukomanovic: Well, you know, every game for us is difficult and Saturday's match will be no different. So since we started, we had to fight for every point, we had to fight against all opponents, we had to fight for every inch of the field. So, I think that now playing against the teams who are mathematically out of the semi-finals, it doesn't change a lot, because these guys are also fighting for the jersey, they're fighting for the logo they're wearing on the chest.

Kerala Blasters FC have collected only one point out of a possible six from the last two matches. Do you feel your team was unlucky in that regard?

Vukomanovic: Well, you know that there are some, for example, in football, the beauty and ugly side of football is that nobody guarantees you that if you play nice that you will win the game, and there is no guarantee that the team will win. So that's the ugly side of football.

So, in the two games, controlling the game, creating chances, we'll talk about things. You know, today, we were talking about those things yesterday, you know, maybe a couple days, but later on what stays on paper, it's the result, you know, and we didn't get the points, we were creating those chances, because you work hard on a training session and game to create chances to be able to score goals.

So from the other side, if you speak about luck, I firmly believe that luck is an important factor in a football game. Also, I believe for the luck you deserve, you have to work hard. And when you get those chances, maybe you will get the luck to score. So it wasn't working in our favour in the last two games. So we cannot complain.

Blasters’ midfielder Ayush Adhikari also attended the press conference and responded to the questions put forward by the media.

Here are the excerpts from the players press conference:

You played in the last game against one of the best teams this season? So how was your experience from the game?

Ayush: Personally, it was a good feeling to start a game. And as a player, it's always good when you play and to play against a team like Hyderabad, which was like, top of the table and with the good quality players in the position. So it was a tough game for us. But I think it was good because alongside, I had many good players as well, when we created many chances. Personally, it was a good experience for me to get to gametime in those kinds of games.

You have been playing for Kerala Blasters FC for the second consecutive season, how has it been different playing under Ivan Vukomanovic?

Ayush: Yeah, I think it is. It is good for me to work hard since day one of the pre-season. And finally getting game time in these kinds of matches, which is so important for the club. And I'm happy that I'm available for the games. And I think it's always good for a player when he plays whenever he gets game time. As coach, I'm thankful for the trust and the belief he has shown in me for providing me the game time. And yes, it's all good.

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