Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic appeared to be wary of his team's next challenge as his side prepare to face East Bengal FC in matchweek 6 of the Indian Super League  (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Vivekananda Yuvabharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.

East Bengal FC have not been in great form so far this season. They sit in ninth position with just one win from four games so far this season. They lost their last ISL game courtesy of a brilliant comeback by FC Goa.

Vukomanovic though believes that league form at this stage of the season does not account for much.

"It does not mean anything, there are clubs who started the league not on a great level yet later they catch up and they went up the table," Vukomanovic stated in the pre-match press conference.

The Serbian also acknowledged the quality of the East Bengal FC team this season compared to previous seasons.

"I think that this year East Bengal has more quality, based on individual players. They are a dangerous team with very good organisation so we have to be more aware of that," he said.

Kerala Blasters FC have started the season on a positive note. They sit in the fourth position in the league table with three wins, a draw and a loss from five matches played so far this season.

Pritam Kotal and Prabir Das joined Kerala Blasters FC this season from Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Bengaluru FC respectively. Both of them have played in Kolkata for the majority of their careers, however, Das is out of this game due to suspension.

But Vukomanovic feels Kotal's experience will have something to offer to the team in games in a tough Kolkata environment.

"We are always glad to have these kinds of players with experience who can bring something to our team. So, let us hope that on Saturday it will be the case," he said.

Kerala Blasters FC have a lot of promising youngsters in the team. Since Vukomanovic came to the ISL, he has worked tirelessly to improve these youngsters and give them proper game time.

The Serbian believe in giving more chances to young players to show their quality because it will help them improve their own game.

"We have young players who are capable of playing in different positions. I give chances to more young players to show themselves because it will increase their level of football qualities and like that, they will become better players," he said.

Vukomanovic also emphasised that the mental aspect of the game is very important for youngsters and felt that making mistakes will help his young players mature and grow.

"When you approach a game, you not only prepare your team physically but also mentally. Many times some players will make wrong decisions or mistakes which will lead to us conceding goals. We know how we have to deal with those moments. We have a very young team with many young players. We want them to grow up and this is the way they learn," he said.

We have to remain calm and concentrate on the game: Hormipam Ruivah

Kerala Blasters FC center-back Hormipam Ruivah accompanied Vukomanovic in the pre-match press conference.

He has started twice for Kerala Blasters FC so far this season with Kotal being his center-back partner in both of those games.

He believes that playing with an experienced player like Kotal has helped him immensely this season.

"He is a senior player. I have still got more to learn from him and I feel comfortable in his guidance," he said.

Speaking on the game in Kolkata, he emphasises the importance of keeping calm amid a hostile atmosphere.

"East Bengal has players of very good quality. We have to remain calm and concentrate on the game," he concluded.