Wanted youngsters to feel the strength and power of ISL: Kerala Blasters FC’s Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC Head Coach Ivan Vukomanoic was disappointed after his side narrowly lost to Hyderabad FC (2-1) at the Athletic Stadium, Bambolim, Goa on Wednesday. The result meant that KBFC remains just outside the top four, in fifth, with three games left to play in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 campaign.

Bartholomew Ogbeche gave HFC the lead in the 28th minute while Javier Siverio doubled their lead late on in the game and despite Vincy Barretto scored for KBFC in stoppage time, it was too little too late for the Vukomanovic-led side to make a comeback and Manuel Marquez’s side went away with the three points, becoming the first team this season to qualify for the semi-finals.

Also Read: Hyderabad FC see off Kerala Blasters FC to book semi-final spot

Head Coach Ivan Vukomanovic addressed the media after the game in the post-match press conference.

Here are some excerpts from his press conference:

This result means that Hyderabad FC has become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals. How hard is it now for you to qualify?

Well, it is not hard. But I think that we played a good game despite a group of players that were missing, but I won't use that as an excuse because the players who were not with us today are injured and we have to go with the group that we have. So, today we arrived with some youngsters. We wanted to give them a chance and time, to get the feeling of playing against the team from the top of the table, to compete, and to feel the strength and power of ISL. We played a good game and we faced a very good opponent. Speaking about the fact that we started the game with some difficulties, then we got back into the game. After the first goal went in, we knew that when you're facing top players that you have to win duels, you have to win those moments because these kinds of details make the difference. After the first goal, we got back the grip of the game, we were good, and then we created some chances that we couldn't score. Today and yesterday, we were talking that when you are facing this kind of opponent, you must score those chances because you will not get lots of them. So, when you get those chances, you must be focused. In the first half, and also in the second half, it was not the case, we had good moments, we had control of the game and then those chances that we created we didn't score. I'm happy for, for example, Rahul who played again after the 19th of November. I was happy to see him back on the pitch. Then, after the second goal again, we wanted to push, we were also the team who wanted to play football, who wanted to show certain things that we are training. And of course, at the end, we scored one nice goal but it was not enough for the points. So now we have to continue working because in three days we're going to play the next game. We have to continue with our work. We have three games to fight till the end to try to achieve points and try to be on top of the table.

The last few games are very interesting. How do you see them from your perspective?

First of all, I see the schedule and the fixtures and they are not correct because there are teams who play 18 games or 16 games and when you are approaching the end, with everything that has happened in the previous period, then we have the teams who already know the destiny and they are in a different state of mind than the other teams. For us, it's a football game. So, the next games are three football games, nothing more than that. If there is like a bigger streak in the game, that's still a football game. At the end of the day, when the game starts, you're concentrating on the ball, you're concentrating on the pitch and that's it. So, the boys are aware of that and we will prepare these three games and try to get the maximum points out of it. Of course, many teams are now facing each other and that's part of the league. I just hope that we will not get any more injured players because if you speak about the new year and the COVID outbreak, there is not a lot of time to have those overload training sessions which allow your players to improve on a fitness level or on any other level. And then when you have such a schedule, with games following each other, then we see all around the league players getting injured and it will be the case till the end of the season. So, we'll try to refresh our team to recover for the next games, have the best possible team and try to get the points.

Hyderabad FC Head Coach Manuel Marquez has revealed that you congratulated them after the game and also, had a chat with him. Can you tell us what you talked about?

Head Coach Manuel Marquez is a gentleman and a very good coach. He proved that last season and this season as well, Hyderabad FC has performed on the highest level so far. So, from a human side and also as a sportsman, I haven't seen them on the pitch so, I wanted to congratulate them on their achievement and I wish them all the best because as a sportsman when you lose a game you have to shake hands and congratulate your opponents. This is the sports life and this is the way I was educated and I want to continue like that.

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