Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic is anticipating another tough game when his side take on rivals Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Friday.

The Blasters went into the international break on top of the league table, but now, with two straight defeats, they find themselves slipped to the third position. The poor patch continues for them as they've now lost four matches in a row across all competitions.

Head coach Vukomanovic comments on what is happening for them right now that has made the difference from their performance in the first half of the season to the current scenario.

“We proved in the first half of the season that we can keep clean sheets, whether we play with foreigners or without them in the backline. Because we were also winning games when had our players suspended. It’s about the mental and character part of being committed, defending when needed, and fulfilling your tasks for the team,” Vukomanovic stated in the pre-match press conference.

The Serbian reflected on their performance against Punjab FC, where they squandered their early lead and succumbed to their first defeat at home this season, conceding three goals.

“The game against Punjab FC was the lowest level of football we played in the last three years. I have never had a four-game straight loss in my career. It’s embarrassing, and I hope the players feel the same,” he said.

“We were saying that the game against Punjab FC would be the most important game of the season and for us it was the most important game of the season because maybe with the victory (against Punjab FC) we could have sit down on the table with some extra points and some luxury going towards the end of the season,” Vukomanovic added.

Nevertheless, the Blasters now aim to bounce back and revive their lost form with a victory against their Southern rivals, Chennaiyin FC. A win would keep them in contention for the League Shield.

Vukomanovic urges his players to take on more responsibilities, anticipating a tougher challenge on the road against the Marina Machans.

“All the games we won in the last 2 and a half years were victories achieved through hard work and discipline. As a coach, it’s my responsibility. We lost our momentum of winning, now we are in suffering momentum. Now we take the games one by one. We focus on Chennaiyin FC first,” he said.

“I expect an even tougher game against Chennaiyin FC. Every time we play against Owen (Coyle) it has been tough (for us). They've got good players and their current position doesn't matter,” he added.

New foreigner Fedor Černych made his first start in the ISL against Punjab FC, but the Blasters' head coach feels the Lithuanian would need some more time to get accustomed to the environment.

“Fedor (Černych) is still not 100% (fit) as he arrived late due to some Visa issues. When you move from Europe (where the temperature is around -15° to India's temperature of 35°, so it’s a difference of 50°. So you need time but he's getting better,” Vukomanovic stated.

It is our responsibility to fight back: Jeakson Singh

Midfielder Jeakson Singh joined the head coach in the pre-match press conference. The Indian international made his first appearance since recovering from the injury he suffered in October.

The comeback wasn’t good for Singh, but he expects the team to fight back and stay in the hunt for the League Shield.

“We would obviously like to win all the remaining matches. The last few matches were bad (for us). I was happy (to be back) but my first match after coming back didn't go well,” Singh said.

“We've two options, to give up or we try to bounce back. It's up to us and our responsibility to fight back and stay on the top,” he added.