Want to show that we can compete against anybody: Kerala Blasters FC's Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic expects a strong and aggressive challenge from Odisha FC but has backed his players to show their competitiveness and winning mentality, as his side visits Bhubaneswar to face the Juggernauts in matchweek 3 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Sunday.

The Blasters will be on road for the first time this season after playing their first two games at home. Vukomanovic expressed gratitude to the KBFC faithful for their unwavering support and urged his team to put extra efforts for the supporters.

The Serbian also spoke about playing in front of an away crowd for the first time in two years and stated that it will be a completely new experience for several of the players in his team.

Vukomanovic also spoke about the link-up of foreign players in the team, the gametime of youngsters, and a lot more in the official pre-match press conference alongside midfielder Puitea.

Here are the excerpts from his press conference:

In the last two matches, we’ve played at home with the fans where the team was playing attacking football. In the away matches, can we expect the same intensity of attacking?

Yes, absolutely, because that’s the way we like to play. The way of attacking football, offensive football, this is the way we want to enjoy (our game). This is the way we want to see these boys play because we see them enjoying and playing like that in the training sessions and in the games, and we want to continue like that. Speaking about the fact of going outside of your comfort zone: when you go out of your comfort zone, playing like that, that's the way you improve, and that's the way you become better. The players become better not only individually but collectively as a team. So we want to continue like that.

Do you think the team will require massive fan support in the next match?

That's the power of football. When you play away games, especially almost 2000 kilometres away from home. So, that's kind of a part of football, you're playing away games you have to deal with that. However, we are very glad that we are the one of the one of the clubs who have that kind of support especially playing at home and are grateful for having that kind of support. When you, as a team, have that kind of support, you must play for the fans, and football is played for the fans. Last year it was awful in empty stadiums, so now playing for the fans, we want to give something extra because they deserve to see us doing that. Any game, home or away, we'll be fighting for them.

What are your expectations from Odisha FC?

We are expecting Odisha FC to be strong, to be aggressive. We're expecting to have crowd support and everything. However, as a team, we always want to be prepared to play hard games, to be aggressive as well, to show the quality because the boys have quality, they want to compete, and that’s a nice thing that we have in our team. We want to compete, against anybody we want to compete, to show that we are capable of winning games. So in football, you win, lose, or draw, but the mindset that we want to have is this kind of positivity in attacking, so we want that (in our team).

Your opponent is Odisha FC who have won one game. How have you motivated the players for the game?

It’s a competition. I think that we have been working consistently for a longer period of time now. We know the way we want to play, we know that every game for us will be difficult whether we're playing home or away. You know, sometimes it's different because when you play at home, you have a full stadium. So, against Odisha FC, we're going to experience it (the away crowd) after two full years, coming back and playing in front of the crowd, in front of the fans. Tomorrow, it will be a new experience for many of our players in playing an away game. Even last year in Goa, every game was like an away game but without the fans. Let’s hope for the best.

What is the availability of the players ahead of the game? Is everyone match fit?

Yes, everybody is available for the game against Odisha FC. Everyone is healthy and we’re here with our full squad so anybody can play. Today we have one more session to see. Victor (Mongil) is a quality player coming from this team who is available, there is a possibility that he will play.

How do you read the link-up play between Adrian Luna and the new foreign players?

There's always this connection, especially with the new players when they arrive, they need some time to find that pleasure in playing together (as a team). They (new foreign players) have known each other for a while now, two months. Some of them even arrived a bit later in the preseason, but they're getting pleasure. They're getting pleasure, seeing them having the pleasure not only on the pitch but also off the pitch. So, this is how you create a team spirit. As a coach, as a coaching staff, we are very glad and happy to see them enjoying their time on the pitch, creating combinations, playing nice football, wanting to play and score one goal more than the opponents. So, we are happy, we are happy with our new players

What are the chances of the new players like Bryce (Miranda) and Saurav (Mandal) getting action in the first team?

The chances are always there, especially the both of them, they have to know when they recognised the difference between the Hero ISL and the Hero I-League. Since they arrived (at KBFC), they’ve seen that the training sessions have been of higher intensity, every duel, every game, responsibility, accountability for actions, credibility for losses, in all these they’re recognising new moments in their playing life and they’re adapting to that level. They're adapting to that level, they both have qualities and we're expecting several things from the both of them this year. 

Here are the excerpts from Puitea’s press conference:

How has the team prepared for the game against Odisha FC?

We’re prepared for the game. Last game wasn’t good for us, and we need to react, so we have been preparing and have come here (Bhubaneswar) for the three points.

Last week you performed very well with Jeakson Singh in the midfield. So, how do you enjoy the combination with him in the midfield?

Jeakson is one of the best midfielders in India, so it’s easy for me to play with him and manage the team. And it’s not only about the both of us, it’s about the team. We are enjoying football here. So, it’s simple, we’re enjoying every minute that we play together and that’s all.

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