For us it’s just another match: Kerala Blasters’ Ivan Vukomanovic on Bengaluru FC clash

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic played down the hype surrounding the game as his side face rivals Bengaluru FC in the Hero Indian Super league (ISL) on Sunday even though the fixture between the two clubs has seen some intense encounters over the years.

The game promises to be a thrilling one regardless of the result, the Blasters would be desperate to register the first win of their campaign, after losing to ATK Mohun Bagan in their opening game, and being held to a 0-0 draw by NorthEast United FC.

On the eve of their game against Bengaluru FC, head coach Vukomanovic and new signing Harmanjot Khabra, who previously played for the Blues, addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from Vukomanovic’s press conference:

What are the issues you observed during the first two matches? And what are the solutions you have in your mind?

Vukomanovic: Well, when you start the competition, and when you start the official games, there are many things that occurred during the games, and actually you have to be capable of modifying certain things during those moments. So actually, we saw in the first game that we were committing some mistakes that resulted, not in our favor. And then in the second game, we try  to solve that problem, to not repeat them. So actually, we wanted to have more stability with our defense line, we wanted to have more stability with shortening the space between the lines, and that's what we did in the second game.

Your overall defense was good in the last game, but your team still lost the ball in our own half a few times. So with Bengaluru FC expected to play a high press, is that a concern for the team?

Vukomanovic: Yeah, always, when you play high up the pitch, even if you play against the teams from a lower division, it will open the space behind your back, because when you stay up the pitch, there is a lot of space behind the back. So these kinds of things are good, not only in our games, not only in every game in the ISL but around the world even if you watch the games on the highest level, these kinds of things occur. But we are working on those things, to know how we stay when we don't have the ball, and how we play when we have the ball.

The Kerala Blasters FC vs Bengaluru FC match is very exciting among fans, does this put any pressure on Kerala Blasters?

Vukomanovic: No, because for us it's a football game. Of course, some games, they have more spicy things in it like this is the case now. But actually, for us, the coaching staff, the players, it's a football game. So the approach is always the same. We have to be fully concentrated and focus on the things we want to achieve on the pitch, and that's it. Many other kinds of supplementary pressure, there is no sign whatsoever. So we are doing our job and we are preparing for the game.

Here are the excerpts from Khabra’s press conference:

Did you feel that the team started a bit cautiously in the first half against NorthEast United FC due to the results from the first game?

Khabra: Yeah, because when, in the first match, you have already considered in the first few minutes it puts the team under pressure. So we were very cautious about it, like, defensively we have to try to keep a clean sheet and we can do best as defenders. Because we do have quality up front, it was more possible for us to score, like we had both those chances, if we could have scored, the result could have been different

Now that it's two games without a win, what is the mood in the dressing room and what is your advice to the young players on how to face the next matches?

Khabra: We are very positive in the dressing room. I feel like there is nothing that has changed as to what I have been faced with in other dressing rooms, so, everything is good, all the players are in good mood and they know their responsibilities. My advice to all Indian players out there is that everybody has an equal opportunity to be on the field but it is all about availing it and just to keep things simple and they will get what they want and they can achieve their goals.

How do you think your former team will approach Kerala Blasters FC tomorrow?

Khabra: Let's not make it so complicated, it's a match, and the fans are there, they have had a healthy rivalry in the past. So I don't make any kind of big hype, or any kind of big talk about this. The most important is that we had a match two days back, and it's another kind of challenge for us. They have a good team too. And we do have our practice, our coach has plans, so we just stick with that, and do the things, nothing much.

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