Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic stressed on the importance of their 1-0 win over SC East Bengal in match 91 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa.

A 49th minute strike from Enes Sipovic made the difference between the two sides, as the Blasters moved to the third spot of the league table, with five games to go in the league. Despite a spirited fight in the second half, the red and gold brigade failed to score the equaliser.

Match Report: Kerala Blasters FC edge past SC East Bengal to regain top-four spot

Vukomanovic addressed the media during the post-match press conference following their win over SC East Bengal.

Here are the excerpts from the press conference:

How crucial were the three points today, considering the defeat suffered in the previous match?

It was very important that today we achieved those points. We are very glad that we were capable of doing it because after such a defeat, let's say, in the moment where we are now, close to the end. It was very important that we perform today, we tried to have a clean sheet and tried to score a goal for this victory.

We showed so far this season that for us, the most difficult games were against the teams from the bottom of the table. Even if I think that our tonight's opponent (SC East Bengal) does not, let's say, deserve to be at the bottom because they can play nice football. They have some interesting players, but anyway, we were on top of all possibilities tonight. We scored from a set piece, which we've been working on the last couple of days.

It was very important tonight to remain mentally strong, that we stay focused, concentrate, especially when we are about to defend. Then it was very important that we get the clean sheet, that we stay organized in the moment when we were suffering and then try to, maybe, break and create some more chances to score more goals, which we had tonight.

Do you think it was a close game, where either team could have walked away with full points?

Yes, absolutely. I think that from seeing the first half, we were the team who were pressing more, who maybe wanted more and were pushing more in the first half. In the second half, we wanted to stay strong. We wanted to start very strong with the pressure in the second half, which resulted in the corner kick, after which we scored our goal.

And then after that, we kind of lost the grip, lost the control in the midfield. But anyway, we stayed organized. We stayed focused even when we had, In one period later on - the control of the ball, conserving the ball around, passing the ball around, trying to create more chances. But anyway, at the end we are happy.

Ayush Adhikari came back into the team after a suspension. What are your thoughts on his performance?

All of these young boys have to face difficult and different moments during ISL. So it's not just going on to the pitch, playing nice football, smiling, having fun. Sometimes it's like a fight, you have to enter duels. And I'm very glad that many of our young players are now witnessing and they are now playing these kinds of games in ISL because this kind of games will make them stronger. These kinds of games will make them better.

So like that they will improve, this is a confirmation of their qualities, character mentality, because if they want to participate in this kind of league, they should be strong and they have to continue working hard to be there. So I'm very glad about him.

What do you make of Bijoy Varghese’s performance, who came into the starting XI in place of Ruivah Hormipam?

Bijoy (Varghese) is a great guy. He's a good player. Since he started training with us last August, he was coming from the B team. He never played on the level of ISL and is now completing a couple of games this season and showing maturity, showing great mentality, and a fighting spirit.

So this is something extra that he will bring in for the future to Kerala Blasters FC. He has to work a lot. He has to continue improving. There are many aspects in his game and in many other youngsters that they have to improve and correct. That's why we are here. I'm really glad to have all of them and it's my big pleasure to work with them and try to improve them even more.