Players showed great skill and motivation to beat a champion team: Kerala Blasters FC’s Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was pleased with the way his team executed their gameplan during the 3-0 victory over defending champions Mumbai City FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the PJN stadium on Sunday.

Goals from Sahal Abdul Samad, Alvaro Vazquez and Pereyra Diaz secured an emphatic victory for the Blasters that took them to the fifth spot in the Hero ISL standings.

Vukomanovic believed that the victory was a result of the hard work that his players had put in since the start of pre-season.

Vukomanovic addressed the media after the match.

Here are excerpts from his post-match press conference:

Mumbai City FC's attack has been on fire in the Hero IS so how does it feel to keep a clean sheet against them and what made it possible?

First of all it's down to the huge amount of work these boys have been doing. Also it's down to the change in mindset where the players are committing everything to get a win, being strong and not conceding goals. These are the details that are very important in a football match. It's been four months since we are working on certain things, playing in a certain different styles. We want to develop different styles of play depending on our opponent. I think tonight the boys showed great skill and motivation to face a champion and a team that is now sitting at the top of the table.

So we came out tonight with motivation. We wanted to press them high, we wanted to neutralise their key players, key points and allow some other players of Mumbai City FC to build up from behind. These are the things that you prepare during the week on the training ground and with the help of video analysis. I'm happy that the boys understood the gameplan and they showed it on the pitch. I feel so proud of them.

Do you think the only negative on the night was failing to score more after Mumbai City FC went down to ten men?

When you have a mindset from the past that you don't believe certain things will happen then you find it hard sometimes to kill the game. In that moment you must be patient and calm in decision-making. In the second half, I was not happy with that part of the game because we should have been more calm on the ball, more patient and more decisive with the last pass. Probably with all these things we could have scored even more goals. But in the end, we should be very happy with this victory, especially for the fans. I'm so proud and happy for them.

What has changed with Sahal Abdul Samad that he is scoring goals and also what's the update on his injury?

Sahal has been working well for a while. I'm very happy with him. There was a lot of time where he spent a lot of time with the national team where he missed a big part of our pre-season. And now he is getting back in shape. We are trying to add certain aspects to his game when he is on the pitch. He is a great player with great potential. He can become an even better player because he has a big margin for improvement. We want to help him to score even more goals this season in the Hero ISL. I am happy with him and also a lot of other players who have improved a lot since we started our work.

You have moved up to fifth spot in the table. How do you see the standings shaping up?

I have to be honest and think that I'm sorry for our two lost points at Fatorda against NorthEast United FC and maybe also in our last game against SC East Bengal where we had two cancelled goals. We are missing those points. With those in our pocket. But our objective this season is to prepare game by game and to go on the pitch with a plan to neutralise their strong points and use the opponents' weaknesses. With this aspect, we want to improve as a team this season and try to be competitive and try to be unbeatable. If you don't concede goals and if you have clean sheets, it gives you more and more confidence. We now have two games in the next couple of days. We have the rhythm with us so we will prepare and try to become even better.

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