Kerala Blasters FC qualified for the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) final following an entertaining semi-final second leg which saw them draw 1-1 with Jamshedpur FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa. 

KBFC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was delighted with his team’s performance over the two legs and is looking forward to playing in front of the yellow army in the Hero ISL final on Sunday.

Adrian Luna gave KBFC the lead in the 18th minute of the game, and though Pronay Halder got a goal back for the Men of Steel, it was not enough to overturn the aggregate scoreline and the Kochi-based side won the tie 2-1 on aggregate.

Report: Kerala Blasters FC 1-1 Jamshedpur FC (agg: 2-1), Ivan Vukomanovic’s men reach final after hard-fought draw

Ivan Vukomanovic addressed the media after the game.

Here are the excerpts from his press conference:

How do you feel right now?

It's been a great achievement, I think for the club, first of all, and especially for the fans who were waiting for so long to be where we are standing today. After several years of disappointment and several seasons of less good results, I'd say, we achieved something great today. And I think that we should all be happy, all the yellow family, all the people from Kerala, we all should be happy.

These boys tonight, I'm so proud of them. They were fighting so well throughout the whole season. Since we started last year in August, we knew that there is potential and quality to end up top of the table. We knew that tonight we had to face one of the best teams in the league again. We knew that it would be a physical game, we knew that it would be a fight. So, we had to overcome all those things to achieve this.

Now it gives us pride, it gives us a great feeling and we want to enjoy the next couple of days. And of course, in the final, we want to enjoy that moment. Because I think that all the people from Kerala and all the people who are following our club and cheering for Kerala Blasters deserve it. They deserve to be here. They deserve to come to see that final.

These boys are doing a great job since we started and it was not easy. As a team, if you're coming second from the bottom from last season, you have to fight and overcome so many hard things. And today we are all proud. We're all proud and want to continue, especially to sleep over, to be refreshed tomorrow to think about the next couple of days to prepare to the best we can and get the job done.

Do you consider this match as a draw or a victory in your plans for the final?

There is something different when you are playing competition when you are fighting for points, and when you're playing knock out phase like it is the situation in the semi-finals, where we actually have to play in 180 or 190 minutes with extra time, there are many things that you have to take in consideration. And there are many things that are different than in normal competition when you're fighting in a 90 minutes game for the points. So we had to manage two games in a row against one of the best teams in the league.

Hats off to them because they won the regular part of the season. They were consistent, they were strong. And we knew that playing against Jamshedpur FC, the only one you can play is playing tough and being tough, playing physical because that's how they break down their opponents. If you just step back for a second, then you can have trouble.

I think that at the beginning of the game, we had a situation where we could actually kill the game. We had some chances in the first half, we could score one or two goals, and then have an easy game and manage the game and to have everything like we actually wanted. But in football, you never know anything's possible. Then we scored that goal. We wanted to continue fighting but then, the opponents were back in the game, and then we had to fight till the end.

All the teams after the New Year's were physically and mentally exhausted, there was no time to train, there was no time to keep the rhythm. And because of that now at the end, we are all exhausted. We're all tired mentally and physically and we had to overcome all those things to defend against one of the best teams. We managed to do that till the end and this drive brought us to the finals. That was our objective and of course, we are happy because of it.

The final will be in front of your fans. What does it mean to you?

It means everything. I think that the boys will have extra motivation seeing the crowd coming in. I think that the fans have suffered a lot throughout these two seasons, especially when there were no results. But I think even more this season where we had such nice results where the fans should actually have fun, and I think that the football we are playing is for the fans, because playing in front of these empty stadiums, it does not give you not a great feeling. The feeling when you play in front of full crowds, it gives you goosebumps, it gives you extra power, it gives you extra motivation to fight for your jersey to fight for your team.

And actually, now we are grateful that we are going to see them. So I think that many of them will already hit the road, maybe tonight or tomorrow. And we are very grateful you're going to see them in Fatorda on Sunday. So it means everything it means everything. We are also very motivated to see them and try to achieve everything for them because they deserve it.