Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic feels East Bengal FC, their Friday’s opponents in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) should be much higher up in the points table than where they find themselves to be and feels his team need to be wary of their quality. 

The Red and Gold brigade are in ninth place in the points table with just four wins in 15 matches but Vukomanovic feels that it doesn’t reflect the quality in their ranks. 

“I think East Bengal FC are in a spot (on the table) where they don't deserve to be,” the Serbian said during the pre-match press conference. 

“I think they have a very good team, a very good squad. They have quality and if at any moment you think it will be easy, it won't be the case. If you allow this kind of team to explore their quality, you can suffer,” he added. 

Blasters ended their two-match losing streak with a win over NorthEast United FC in the last matchweek. Vukomanovic who had made six changes for the match reiterated the importance of having a strong squad to be able to consistently compete at the top end of the table in the Hero ISL. 

“As a football team, we must have 20 players who are ready to play any game when you want them to,” the coach said. 

“We want to have a wide enough squad that everyone knows that there are no certainties that you will get your starting XI spot. There are always younger players coming to get your spot, then there are players who work really hard and fight for the spot on the pitch. The players must realise that it must not be easy to get a starting spot and they must not get comfortable and not be bothered,” he added. 

“We don't want to have an impression that we depend on just one player. If we miss one player, the other one comes in and it doesn't matter. This is how we want to build our squad,” he continued. 

Kerala Blasters FC will be met with a hostile crowd at the Vivekanand Yuva Bharati Krirangan on Friday but the Serbian feels his team are well-equipped to deal with the atmosphere. 

“We are used to playing in front of a crowd. Whether we have played home or away this season there has always been a crowd,” Vukomanovic said. 

“At home we always have crowds and even away from home we have a few thousand KBFC fans and other fans. So, we expect a good crowd who want to come and enjoy the game. We welcome home or away fans because we would like to show them a good game,” he added. 

With Prabsukhan Singh Gill set to miss the game due to fever, veteran custodian Karanjit Singh will take his place between the sticks. 

The 37-year-old made his Kerala Blasters FC debut in the last match against the Highlanders which was also his 50th Hero ISL match. 

“It was my debut for Kerala Blasters FC. It was a good feeling as it's a very big club. It was also my 50th Hero ISL match. For me, though the most important thing was three points because the last match was very crucial for us as we had lost two games before that,” Karanjit said during the pre-match press conference. 

“I played after a long time. But I was prepared as I trained well during that time,” he added. 

Karanjit is expecting no easy passage for his team in Kolkata on Friday as his experience of facing Kolkata teams in the past tells him. 

“The match against East Bengal FC is a very tough match because they are a very good team. It was different in the first match but they have improved a lot now and it will be a very good game,” he said. 

Speaking about the fans, Karanjit believes the Kerala Blasters FC supporters are one of the best in India and expects a good contest between the two sets of fans in the stands. 

“I have played against Kolkata teams a lot of times and I have seen the crowd. Kochi too is great. I think one of the best. They always support the home team even when we are in trouble or when we are losing. They are always behind us. So, we thank them for that,” he concluded.