Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic expressed pleasure with the way the youngsters are performing in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22, even though he feels they should make use of the limited opportunities they’re being handed at the top level. He also lauded the emphatic goal scored by Alvaro Vazquez in their 2-1 win over NorthEast United FC in their last match.

The Blasters are placed at the second position in the league table, with 23 points from 13 matches, which includes six wins and five draws. They will be up against Jamshedpur FC in their next match, on February 10.

The Kerala Blasters FC media team recently interviewed head coach Vukomanovic.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

How happy are you with the performance against NorthEast United FC?

I'm very pleased (with the 2-1 win). I'm very pleased seeing the fact that we are now sitting after a very difficult moment, a very difficult situation after everything, what has happened in the previous period with quarantine and the COVID outbreak in our camp. The fact that we have lost our last game (against Bengaluru FC). We wanted and we had to respond yesterday and I was very pleased with the way we were playing, especially in the second half, especially in that moment where we needed to respond, to achieve the victory. And of course at the end, it gave us pleasure and a kind of relief because we are still in top of the table, still competing with the teams to achieve a top four finish. So of course it makes you happy.

What was the pep-talk during the half-time in the previous game, which inspired the win?

We were not that good in the first half and we were not showing the things that we wanted to show. And then the message that was transmitted at halftime from our coaching side was that I wanted to shuffle things a little bit. I wanted to wake them up and hopefully, I was very pleased to see that in the first 15, 20 minutes and in the second half, the boys, they understood the message. They understood everything, and they showed a completely other phase - the things that how we wanted to start the game, and that gave us a great lead, goals. And actually at the end, gave us the victory. You know, sometimes there are moments where you have to explain certain things, even if they're painful, but that's football, that's the way you need to do things.

What did you feel when you saw that goal from Alvaro Vazquez going in?

Well, knowing that Alvaro (Vazquez) likes to score incredible goals. And it's not just he has been trying that already in a couple of games. And the fact also that he has scored a couple of goals in the training sessions. So his volleys, his movements, he's incredible just during some games, these are the things that he's repeating during the training sessions.

And that moment, as a coach, I would never dare to tell players what they have to do when they have the ball. And then in your brain and your reaction as a player, you just have that information, you just click and you're okay, I'll do that. So then as a coach, you can only enjoy, there's nothing but enjoying those moments.

As a coach, I also enjoy and like to see nice things, because in the football game, you want to see lucidity. You want to see great players performing on a great level. You want to see them showing a world-class (goal) and yesterday that was the case. So I was very pleased when I saw that and I was very pleased to have witnessed that moment. That's why we were all happy and all together cheering at the bench because I think that we, as a big family in Kerala Blasters FC, want to celebrate these moments all together.

What is your assessment of Ayush Adhikari and the red card he received?

So yesterday, the thing like two yellow cards, it happens, in one football game, it happens. Now, for him (Ayush) personally, we should call it experience, you know, how maybe not to react in the future, knowing the fact that you already have one yellow card and maybe to be more prudent, maybe to be more careful.

But anyway, these kinds of things happen. So I was very pleased with the way he was playing till that moment. I was very pleased with his commitment on the pitch. He was fighting very hard. He was playing well and he has to continue working hard till the end of the season. And especially later on for the upcoming period, because all these young boys, seeing the ISL format seeing the fact that they don't have many opportunities to play and perform at that level, they have to use those moments. They have to become more experienced. They have to grow up like that.