One small detail made the difference: Kerala Blasters FC's Ivan Vukomanovic
Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic labelled the second yellow card for Rahul KP as the main reason for the defeat as the Yellow Army lost 2-1 against ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Saturday.
A fascinating game right from the start, Dimitrios Diamanatakos opened the scoring for the Blasters in the 16th minute, finishing off a beautiful team goal. An equaliser from Carl McHugh in the 24th minute brought the home team back into the match. Tempers were high throughout the game that saw Rahul KP being shown a second yellow card in the 64th minute. The Mariners responded brilliantly and Carl McHugh scored his second and the winning goal of the night in the 71st minute to seal the three points for Juan Ferrando's men.
ATK Mohun Bagan jumped to the third spot with the victory, securing a place in the playoffs. Kerala Blasters FC, on the other hand, are placed fifth in the points table with the same number of points (31 points in 19 matches) as the Mariners and Bengaluru FC.
The Yellow Army suffered their second consecutive defeat. Vukomanovic mentioned how the second yellow card to Rahul KP changed the complextion of the game.
It wasn't our night. #ATKMBKBFC #ഒന്നായിപോരാടാം #KBFC #KeralaBlasters pic.twitter.com/dCOSdgN4am— Kerala Blasters FC (@KeralaBlasters) February 18, 2023
"The main reason for the defeat was the second yellow card (to Rahul KP). I think we were good in the game, we managed the game in the correct way, and we had control of the game. And when you get the second yellow card, for the first few seconds you're unbalanced and we conceded the second goal, that was the difference. In total, we had a good game. When you play these kinds of games, it goes about one small detail. All the games in the playoffs would depend on small details and that one instance made the difference today. We're sorry about the loss, we wanted a positive result but that was not the case," Vukomanovic said in the official post-match press conference.
Kerala Blasters FC have made it to the playoffs for the second consecutive season After the end of the league phase, the Blasters had 34 points last season and they can match that tally with a victory in the last league match this season. Vukomanovic stated how the team wants to end the season as high in the Hero ISL standings as possible.
"We prepare for the playoffs in the best possible way. Like last season, nobody expected us to be in the playoffs so it's the same this year. We have our way of preparing for the games and doing things our own way and you try to end the season with the highest rank possible. There are many good teams fighting for the playoffs. When you play in the playoffs, be it home or away, it goes about playing a strong game, a strong opponent and one small detail so we have to be ready for it. We analyze for the next game and we continue," Vukomanovic said.
The Mariners started the match in the sixth position on the table and now sit in the third spot after grabbing the victory. Vukomanovic shared his opinion on ATK Mohun Bagan being one of the best teams in the league and added how the team cannot make individual mistakes in such games.
"I think everyone underestimates ATK Mohun Bagan, they're a great team, for me, they're one of the best teams in the league. They've good players, individual quality, they can create chances whenever they want because they have many national team players and a good bunch of foreign players. When you face such teams, especially in an away match, it's not easy to play. Tonight we played a good game, we kept possession and scored a nice goal in the beginning which as a coach, I'm really pleased with," Vukomanovic stated.
"After the first goal, we conceded again with an individual mistake and when you play such games, you cannot make mistakes. In the end, we were on the wrong side of things but we're not worried. We have to continue, we have one more game at home. We want to prepare to be strong, end the regular season and then prepare for the playoffs," he concluded.