Sahal Abdul Samad is the future of Kerala Blasters FC and Indian football: Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was pleased to come out of a tough week without a defeat as his side were held to a 1-1 draw by Jamshedpur FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Sunday.

Sahal Abdul Samad scored for the third game running as he levelled the score after Greg Stewart had given Jamshedpur FC the lead.

Vukomanovic hailed Sahal as a player with great potential and revealed that he has been working very hard behind the scenes.

The head coach spoke to the media after the match.

Here are the excerpts from his press conference:

Are you satisfied with the result today?

You know, today's result is just the end of one exhausting week. And we were looking towards today's game as a kind of effort that we have to go through. We knew that it will be exhausting, we knew that it would be a tough and physical game against this Jamshedpur FC match because that's the way they play: physical, tough game.

We faced them twice in the pre-season. And actually, when you are at the end of one very hard week, like we had now, in the last seven days, the game against Mumbai City FC, the game against Chennaiyin FC, and today, we knew that it will be tough, we knew that it will be physical and we will be exhausted, and that we'll be facing kind of small issues because it is very difficult to play against this team.

We wanted to explore certain things that we planned beforehand like how to attack them, how to use some spaces. From the other side, we knew exactly how they wanted to play with the long balls, with the pressure on our last line, and with the running man behind the back. So we were ready for that, we were ready for that fight and as a coach, I'm happy to see our boys in the last week play three exhausting games with three different approaches and different ways of playing football. So against Mumbai City FC, it was a high pressure with the idea, with a tactical approach, against Chennaiyin, the same thing with a different approach. And now, today it was fighting football, physical football that you have to be ready for. Otherwise, you lose this game easily, which was the case of some opponents in the last period against Jamshedpur FC.

And of course, at the end, we are happy with the positive attitude, we are happy with the positive outcome because for us, it's seven games in a row without defeat. For the club as well, it's a huge achievement, and we have to be all happy. And I'm happy for the fans because they enjoy our work, they enjoy playing style, they enjoy seeing the boys being together all the time, attacking together, defending together, because this is the team and the mentality we want to have in our team. So far, we are happy.

Adrian Luna was subbed off early. Any specific reason for that?

Luna was playing the last three games at high intensity. He felt the kind of issue in the second half. So we didn't want to make it worse, we didn't want to take a risk. So we anticipated and just took him off. Because we want to have him ready for the next game. So hopefully nothing's wrong, nothing's bad. He told us that he just felt a little bit. So we'll see what the medical staff say. Hopefully he will be right for the next game.

Are there any tactical tweaks or suggestions you have added to Sahal's game?

Not only for today, because Sahal is one of the players who can make a difference. Sahal is one of the domestic Indian players who has great potential to improve even more. And since we started, I think that he's doing a great job, he is doing an excellent job because he's implementing the things that we want to add into his game. I think that maybe in the previous period, you know, in football, you have to be in the right spot at the right time. So we are trying to work on those things not only with Sahal but with all the other guys. Now, here's a guy who can attack from the right side, from the left side, from the middle because he has a potential to do it. And I firmly believe that he can improve no more. I'm happy for him. I'm happy for all the fans who were supporting him. And I'm happy for all the fans now who are still supporting him because he's a great guy, great personality and a great player. And I think that he is the future of Kerala Blasters FC and Indian football.

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