Expecting a physical game against Jamshedpur FC: Kerala Blasters FC's Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic is expecting quite a few duels when his side takes on Jamshedpur FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 match at the Athletic Stadium, in Bambolim, Goa on Thursday evening.

The Blasters are currently at the second place in the league table, with 23 points from 13 matches, including six wins and five draws. A win against Jamshedpur FC will equal their record for most victories in a single season in the league stages of the Hero ISL.

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

Here are the excerpts from the press conference:

The last time you faced Jamshedpur FC, it was an end to end game. Will there be any change in the approach and what are your thoughts about the opponents?

Vukomanovic: Tomorrow's opponent (Jamshedpur FC) is a tough team. It will be a very hard game. I expect nothing but  duels, running all around. And I think the team who stays more concentrated, will get on top. It will be a very hard game, I think for both teams. It depends on how both of us will face tomorrow's moment. And you know, like I always like to say let the better team win. And, in these circumstances of course, many teams have to be very prudent and careful about the fitness level, about what's happening around. So we'll see tomorrow, we'll see tomorrow. Again, it will be tough. We are expecting a tough game tomorrow.

Kerala Blasters FC have three matches in seven days in the latter half of February. Does that put an additional pressure on other games to get the result, because in those three matches, recovery time will be less, or is the team taking one game at a time?

Vukomanovic: Yeah, it must be like that because there were some changes in the calendar due to COVID outbreak, you know. And, now it's about how you will modify the training program, how we will modify our game plan and everything. So, we have to take a day game by game, seeing who is available, if anyone has any issues. So far we are right. We're expecting  Rahul KP to be back with the team as an extra weapon.

If anybody asks us, of course, we would like to have that on a longer term, but it's not up to us. We have to adapt. We have to go through it and play those games. So that's it. We had a long period behind us, I think. We have enough fuel to face any opponent, to face every game and hope for the best.

A win in the next match will help Kerala Blasters FC break two records - most wins in a season (seven) and most points in a season (26 points). So, what do you think about that?

From one perspective now that I know that. Yeah, it gives you extra motivation, of course, from the other perspective, from the coaching stuff and organizing things, we cannot base our preparations and our strategy on these statistics. These statistics are really nice to hear. Of course we want to achieve as many points as we can and we want to fight for every point.

Kerala Blasters FC midfielder Lalthathanga Khawlhring also addressed the questions put forward by the media.

Here are the excerpts:

Comparing your role in the past season, there has been a huge change in the Hero ISL 2021-22. You are getting more playing time and the team is playing as a unit. What are the changes that have made it possible from your perspective?

Khawlhring: To be honest, as a person, I'm happy that I am getting my playing time, especially in my original position. So I'm glad about that. It’s about hard work, I fought for my place. We are a big club where we all have a good quality. If you want to play, you need to fight for it. So, I fought. So I think that now, we are doing well as a team. It's about working together and how to work so that we can continue

You haven’t scored this season, but have attempted a few long rangers. Are you frustrated that you haven’t scored or happy that you have helped others to score?

Khawlhring: Of course, every player wants to score, even I think the goalkeeper, their dream is to score goals. But, I'm waiting for my first goal this season. But you know, the most important thing is the team. So as long as we can get three points, I'm happy. But I hope in the future that I can score a goal.

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