Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic expressed pleasure with the performance of his team as they staged a historic comeback against FC Goa in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday.

FC Goa stepped into the second half with a two-goal lead, courtesy of Rowllin Borges and Mohammad Yasir. But the Blasters found themselves back in the game when Daisuke Sakai scored a direct free-kick in the 51st minute. With 10 minutes left of regulation time, FC Goa conceded a penalty which Dimitrios Diamantakos skillfully converted to level the scores.

In the 84th minute of the match, the Greek forward scored his second goal of the night, completing a remarkable comeback for Kerala Blasters FC. Within the next four minutes, Fedor Cernych made it 4-2 for Vukomanovic’s men with an exceptional finish.

On being congratulated for the epic comeback, the head coach expressed his desire to pass it on to the players, who he is extremely proud of.

“Thank you very much (for the wishes). But I would actually keep that (greetings) for the players because they were awesome tonight. They responded in such a way, especially in the second half. You know as a coach it makes me proud,” stated Vukomanovic in the post-match press conference.

The Serbian tactician is happy to see the reaction from the team after going down 2-0 in the opening half. He feels conceding those two goals early in the first half was a positive motivation for his team that pushed them to fight back in the second half.

Vukomanovic said, “The way they (the players) responded and the way how they (the players) wanted to fight back, (it was) especially for the badge and for the fans. Maybe we needed that kind of shock or maybe a kind of team talk again during halftime.”

With this win, Kerala Blasters FC moved up to fourth place with 28 points from 16 matches. However, Vukomanovic doesn’t want to celebrate early as he still has six big games ahead that will decide the winner of the ISL.

Sharing his approach to these games, he shared, “We are still nowhere. We are, like I say, in no man's land. We must not think that we are now great. We still have six big games, big steps to respond and to fight for every minute and every point.”

Securing the remarkable comeback, the 46-year-old feels ecstatic and accepted that no one expected such a turnaround.

“I think nobody expected that. I think that Kerala Blasters FC never turned over like the result after 0-2 in the halftime,” he laughed.

FC Goa went down to fifth place with today's defeat, which is their third consecutive defeat after initially going unbeaten for 12 matches.

“It was difficult for our opponents because they played three days ago. Really tough game. They're sitting also now in a less good momentum. We had like three games in a row, three losses. We had it also last year. For them, it's maybe new, but I still think they are one of the biggest contenders for the title and for the trophy," he stated.

Jeakson Singh, Fedor Cernych, Vibin Mohanan and Sandeep Singh had played a crucial role in the game having returned fresh from injuries.

Vukomanovic is happy with how they performed but expects them to get in better shape soon.

“When you come back after a long injury like Jeakson, for example, after four months you need some time to get back in shape. You need some time to get back in the rhythm. Fedor is still not 100%, but the way he is contributing to the team by running, fighting, and guiding youngsters. (He is) such a great example,” he stated.

He continued, “Then Sandeep, also coming after a long time without playing, you know, responding in a correct way. Again, we want also our national team players to get back in the shape where they were before the break in December, and it will come back.”

Vukomanovic is full of praise for his star forward Diamantakos who bagged another brace tonight. He now stands second in the goal-scoring chart with ten goals.

He said, “Dimi is absolutely the scoring machine. You know in this league he's the guy who can punish you quickly from a half position, from a half moment. Dimi is really dangerous and he can score goals from situations where nobody expected.”