We always believed we had the quality to beat anybody: Kerala Blasters FC's Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic is confident in the quality of his side and feels they can beat anybody in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) and is not expecting any surprises as they prepare to face Odisha FC at Tilak Maidan Stadium, Goa on Wednesday.

The Blasters are on a fiery unbeaten streak of nine matches that has effectively resulted in them acquiring the pole position in the league table with 17 points.

Ahead of Kerala Blasters FC’s match against Odisha FC, coach Vukomanovic alongside defender Nishu Kumar addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from Vukomanovic’s press conference:

Kerala Blasters are unbeaten in their last nine matches, what is the club doing right after the first defeat?

Vukomanovic: Since we started, we always believed we had the quality to beat anybody. Not only our team but all other clubs in this league, many times the favourites cannot win in the so-called ‘easy games’ and we saw anybody win on a given day. We still had the strength to get back in the game after the first loss against ATK Mohun Bagan. We always believed we can create momentum with good players and personalities.

What are your plans against a familiar Odisha FC?

Vukomanovic: Now that every club has faced everybody, there is a possibility to watch the other teams and there are no longer any surprises. It is about commitment to the game, team and good organisation. We have to use the quality and the strong points that we have while also using opponents' weak points. We have faced Odisha FC in the pre-season as well, in those different moments, you have to be ready to respond. I don’t expect anything special tomorrow as I know what can happen. It will be an interesting game and may the better team win.

What are your concerns with injuries and the Covid-19 outbreak?

Vukomanovic: We were prepared to play every three days. The break between the two seasons is very long. When you enter into fights, there will be casualties. We have enough players in the squad to deal with the injuries. Are we concerned? Yes and no. Players getting long-term injuries is not pleasant. In ISL, because it is a very short competition, if you get a major injury it means you are out of the whole season. When you move to the experienced or career level, it would mean that you end up playing three matches in three years. It is not good for football itself. We are most concerned now about the Covid-19 situation, in my opinion, the moment it will burst out in different camps, there are more cases in different camps. We are getting tested every 12 hours. In the chain process, we are getting involved but hopefully, there are no more cases but we have to deal with it.

Here are the excerpts from defender Nishu Kumar’s press conference:

You were out with an injury, how is the fitness level since you’ve returned?

Nishu: Injury is a part of football. Now that I’m back, I’m really happy. I have to get back in shape but I am fully fit.

With the captain injured, you could be the one to replace him in the XI. What are your thoughts on the same?

Nishu: Jessel (Carneiro) is a very good captain. Sometimes it is not easy as we are in the middle of the season and players like Sanjeev (Stalin), me and Bijoy, we need to give our best in the training to show our quality, get the team’s confidence to fill that position. It is a good challenge for me and other players and I’m sure whoever gets the chance will deliver for the team.

What are the roles of senior players to help through injuries with experience?

Nishu: I have been playing with (Harmanjot) Khabra for five years and Jessel, both are experienced players. We are young and we need to learn from them. Like Khabra has a very strong mentality and he always talks to us that we have to have the mental strength and he is a strong guy. Playing with them is a good experience. It helps a lot in the future too, sometimes we have the tendency to get casual but they are always there to push.  

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