History's behind us, it's a new game: Kerala Blasters coach Ivan Vukomanovic on ATK Mohun Bagan game

Kerala Blaster FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic will not let history bog down Kerala Blasters as they take on ATK Mohun Bagan in their Hero ISL 2021-22 opening match at the Jawahrlal Nehru stadium in Margao, Goa.

The Blasters have come up against ATK Mohun Bagan twice in their history and lost on both occasions but will look to be on the right end of the result on Friday.

Kerala Blasters FC began life under new coach Vukomanovic with the pre-season camp in August. They have made some key signings and look like a real solid team on paper.

Ahead of the opening match against ATK Mohun Bagan, coach Vukomanovic and midfielder Marko Leskovic addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from Vukomanovic’s press conference:

How are you and your team preparing for a very tough challenge that is ATK Mohun Bagan?

Vukomanovic: We are mostly focused on ourselves on how we will play and what our tasks are. Of course, during every game, you have moments where you have to attack and you have to defend. It doesn't mean that only one team will defend. There will be moments in the game where we will have to sit back, and then they will have to sit back. So this is a football game. Actually the whole pre-season period and during the season, as a team you're preparing for all possible options.

Your record against ATKMB doesn’t look good. Does history matter?

Vukomanovic: So actually, it’s a new game. In football, the good thing is that you can have a new game every three days. So in this case, there is a new chapter, there is a new game. So all the history is behind us. We are very pleased and enthusiastic about Friday’s game and beginning the competition. Actually we are pleased that we can play good games. As a coach, and even before as a former player, I always wanted to play in big games. All the players, you know, when you start shooting the ball around your house and start practicing for your dream about playing those games so actually, it's nice. I hope the boys will enjoy the game. They will be motivated and show the good side of their quality.

Considering KBFC lost the most points from winning positions last season, what have you done to improve the shape and strength of the team?

Vukomanovic: Well, we have had the whole process since we started. In the last three and a half months, we were working very hard in every possible aspect. So actually in the last friendly, especially since we arrived here, we were very happy that we could hold (the opponents). And in most of the games we were the dominant side.

What is the role of Sahal Abdul Samad this season?

Vukomanovic: Sahal is one of the players who has the potential to become a very important player of Kerala Blasters and of the national team as well. So we are happy with his improvement, we are happy with his motivation to work hard in every game.

(Adrian) Luna seems to be one of the best signings of the season. What’s your opinion on him?

Vukomanovic: Luna is a player who can play in different positions, Sahal as well. So actually both of them can play on the weak side and both of them can play as attacking midfielder. And both of them can play as strikers. So actually, we will find the right recipe.

Here are excerpts from Marko Leskovic’s press conference:

How has the defence been preparing for the upcoming Hero ISL 2021-22 season and how has your time here been?

Leskovic: We worked very hard in the pre-season. I think everything is good. They are very good players who have line awareness. They play with me in the line. We are very good all the time. I felt very good with our coach and staff.

How is the partnership with young Indian center-back like Abdul Hakku, Bijoy Varghese, and Ruivah Hormipam?

Leskovic: But I think they are very young players. And every player wants to learn. They are very good. They have a very good physic level and talent. What I can give to these players are little tactical moments. They want to learn and I'm very happy with it.

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