Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic expressed satisfaction with his players even though his team suffered a narrow 1-0 loss against Chennaiyin FC in Matchweek 15 of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Friday.

The match started with the highest intensity with both the teams displaying end-to-end action right from kick-off. The deadlock was finally broken when defender Aakash Sangwan calmly slotted the ball past the keeper in the 60th minute of the match, giving the Marina Machans the lead through his first-ever ISL goal. Chennaiyin FC held on to the lead till the full-time, handing Kerala Blasters FC their third consecutive defeat.

The Blasters were also handed a huge blow in the game when they were forced to replace goalkeeper Sachin Suresh and defender Marko Leskovic due to injury. While Suresh was replaced in the first half by Karanjit Singh, Leskovic was subsituted after the hour-mark with Hormipam Ruivah coming on in his place. Vukomanovic is unsure about how long the duo will be will out.   

We have to see now with Sachin Suresh. Most probably he has a dislocated shoulder. We still have to evaluate and make him, I think, a scanner or MRI to see if it's the same situation like it was with Jeakson (Singh) four months ago, if the surgery is needed or not. So we have to see that now, tomorrow, probably with the MRI here in Chennai or, when we get back to Kochi,” stated Vukomanovic in the post-match press conference. 

He added, “Leskovic got a huge kick on his knee and he feels like, because of the kick that it's blocked, that he couldn't make the normal movement, no more after that. And we didn't want to take any more risks. So we said just change him and let him, you know, see if it's nothing worse than we can recover him for the next games.”

Kerala Blasters FC have suffered quite a few injuries this season that kept forcing them to experiment with new players. The Serbian is proud of how these new players have performed and is glad to see them take the weight of the team on their shoulders. 

“Some of the boys who were tonight in the starting 11 at the end, who were coming from the bench in the beginning of the season, they were not even considered to be among 20 players on the bench. So now they have to take all this weight on their shoulders to play all the games. But this is how you grow up. I'm glad for them. And tonight I'm so proud of every one of them,” he shared.

Sharing his approach towards the remaining games, Vukomanovic said, “I think that we have to continue, like it's cliche saying, working hard, of course, to prepare for the next game, trying to get the maximum out of the remaining games.”

Sharing his pride in his players, Vukomanovic stated, “Boys did everything, they gave everything tonight. They gave heart. They have the last drop of their sweat.”