Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic foresees a physical battle as his team faces Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Wednesday.

The Blasters currently hold the second position in the league table with 16 points from seven matches, boasting five wins, one draw and one defeat. A triumph against Chennaiyin FC would propel them to the top of the table, surpassing FC Goa, just before their crucial encounter with the Gaurs on Sunday.

“It feels good to be among the best teams at the moment. It gives huge motivation to continue because you want to stay on top,” Vukomanovic expressed in the pre-match press conference.

Also Read: Ivan Vukomanovic interview: Will do anything to help Kerala Blasters win a trophy

In contrast, Chennaiyin FC have had a challenging start to their campaign, securing only seven points from the same number of matches.

However, the Serbian head coach reiterated that standings don't make much of an impact as it is a long season. He expects another tough, physical game against their Southern rivals, as it always has been.

“Our games against Chennaiyin FC were always tough since the first year in the bubble. The games between Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin FC were always kind of spicy Southern rivalry like we like to call it and I expect a very tough, physical game with many duels tomorrow,” he stated.

Also Read: Preview: Kerala Blasters FC hope to maintain home record as they host Chennaiyin FC

Goalkeeper Sachin Suresh once again proved to be a standout performer in his team's victory against Hyderabad FC, making a terrific save in stoppage time to deny substitute Ramhlunchhunga an equalising goal.

Sachin has been impressive since making his debut, and Vukomanovic is genuinely pleased with the progress he has made.

“We never wanted our keepers to (perform) miracles; instead, we wanted them to be just there and do realistic things, like, you should know when the ball comes, and then you can be there to save it. We are very happy with that,” Vukomanovic opined.

“For long, the goalkeeper coach wanted to further develop young Sachin. This (His performance) also gives the team confidence,” he added.

Ghanaian forward Kwame Peprah, who started the last game in the absence of Dimitrios Diamantakos, once again failed to make his mark as his goal drought continues. Despite playing seven matches in the league, he has yet to make any goal contributions.

While Peprah's form may be a concern for many Kerala Blasters supporters amidst all the positives, the Serbian head coach doesn't seem to be bothered by it.

“He (Kwame Peprah) is a very useful player that he brings us something extra. He's the guy who's physically very strong, can hold the ball, can allow other players to come higher and thanks to him other players can perform better. Yeah, there is a lack of goals for the moment (from him), but it doesn't bother us,” Vukomanovic commented.

Happy to have scored the winning goal against Hyderabad FC: Milos Drincic

Centre-back Milos Drincic joined Vukomanovic in the pre-match press conference. The Montenegrin, returning from his three-match suspension, delivered an excellent performance at both ends, scoring the solitary winning goal and helping his side defensively to secure their second clean sheet of the season.

“I'm very happy to have scored the winning goal, especially I'm happy that happened in a home match with a full stadium. So it was an amazing feeling. I'm here for defending but I'll try to help the team in every way that I can,” Drincic said.

“Every player here at Kerala Blasters feels the love from the fans from the stands and that gives us extra power and energy. I’m also enjoying because we are in the top places in the table and winning, so I hope to continue enjoying and be happy until the end of the season,” he added.

Drincic has also come close to scoring on a couple of more occasions, showcasing his aerial prowess and currently emerging as a threat in set-pieces. When quizzed about it again, he expressed his willingness to contribute more goals to help his side in the future.

“Yes I hope (to score more goals) but as my first job here is to defend I'm very happy with the clean sheet. Until now I think (we have kept) two clean sheets so I want that to keep going and if some opportunity I have to score I will do,” the centre-back stated.