My team has the mentality to win games: Kerala Blasters FC’s Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic believes his team is on the right track and are giving their 100% to win each game, as his side takes on SC East Bengal in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Sunday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco da Gama, Goa.

Vukomanovic hinted that their game against SC East Bengal will be their most difficult match in this campaign and lauded their opponents despite their position in the league table. Remarkably, the Blasters haven’t yet defeated SC East Bengal, having met them twice in the previous season. Following their win against Odisha FC, Vukomanovic’s men will be confident of scripting their first win against the Red and Gold Brigade.

Ahead of their clash against SC East Bengal, the Kerala Blasters head coach addressed the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

Most of the SC East Bengal games have been high-scoring. So, what are your plans for controlling the game or are you looking to attack from the start itself?

All the games were different, you don’t know how the game started and where it ended. We always want to start and be focused and concentrated. There are different offensive and defensive styles we’ve been practising and from opponent to opponent we change those styles. Talking about SC East Bengal, they’re a good team and I think their position in the table maybe it’s not well-deserved, but this is football. We are playing against a good team and so far, it will be the most difficult game for us.

Luna [Adrian] delivers quality performances in almost every match. So, what are the advantages of having a player with such immense work rate and commitment?

It goes back to our period when we were searching for foreign players who can bring something extra to this team of Blasters and Luna was one of the available options which caught our attention. We’re glad to have him not only as a football player but also as a person who fits well in a group. He’s humble, polite and likes to play with the other guys. He likes to be on the pitch, and I think that by giving him support and getting his support, everybody in the team can improve. So far, he’s brought that extra touch to this team.

Kerala Blasters FC is now fighting back after conceding goals, something not seen in the past. How did you manage to rebuild the mentality of the squad?

In a coaching job, there are many things you have to improve, evaluate, build-up. In a football game, you can never give up; there is 90-95 minutes of hard work on the pitch and so far, what we’ve seen, anything is possible in the Hero ISL. As a team we want to believe that we can win every game, we want to believe that you can fight till the last minute and create the kind of energy and respect for each other. I want everybody to fight for each other, and I firmly believe my boys have this winning mentality and they want to prove it.

You’re going to miss Albino Gomes in the coming matches. Do you think this will be a setback for the team?

We will definitely be missing him as our goalkeeper because he was a part of our team. But we are looking for other goalkeeping options, Gill [Prabhsukan] is a young, promising goalkeeper who is working hard and we’re staying 100% behind them. So, we have full confidence in goal for Sunday, no problem whatsoever.       

Three of the five goals in this season have been assisted by Luna [Adrian]. So, we don’t see contribution from our wingers Sahal [Samad] and Vincy [Barretto], can we expect more improvement from their side?

In football it doesn’t matter who scores goals or who assists goals, the most important thing is the chance created to score the goal. There’s always someone who gives the last pass and there’s someone who nets in the ball for the goal. We are not worried about this but of course I’d love to see all of my players score, so maybe it will happen as well.

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