We are now at the final line of the race, it is all about fighting mentality: Kerala Blasters FC's Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic and his team are motivated to take on ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 at Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco da Gama on Saturday.

Despite a loss in the reverse fixture early this season, Vukomanovic is confident about entering the battlefield with a winning mentality as, since the loss, they have managed to bounce back and become strong contenders for a table-top finish.

Ahead of Kerala Blasters FC’s match against ATK Mohun Bagan, coach Vukomanovic and attacker Jorge Diaz addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from Vukomanovic’s press conference.

What will be the composition of the team for the ATK Mohun Bagan clash?

Vukomanovic: We still have Friday’s training to prepare for some things. We are grateful because we have them all available. It is now about fighting for the points. Certainly, we will have to fight to achieve the points because we want to stay at the top. We will now have to puzzle because all of them, they are in the reach of the top. Of course, in this type of game, we will have to attack, unfortunately, only four of our strikers can play.

KBFC started with a loss against ATKMB, what are your thoughts on facing them again?

Vukomanovic: The loss (against ATK Mohun Bagan) feels like it happened three years ago because of what we have achieved so far. It happened a long time ago, and since then many things have changed in our camp. We are now at the final line of the race, it is now about how the teams will respond and enter the fight in what mentality because we have good teams fighting for the points to reach the top. I hope on Saturday, we have a good game because now the players are motivated to show that against one very good team.

Youngsters stepped up in the last match, will they get more chances when injured players return?

Vukomanovic: I am happy that so far, all our boys have had playtime and for youngsters, it is important to build their shape and grow up as players because ISL is a tough competition. A lot of them have improved in many aspects and I am certain that they will play more minutes. I am sorry that the league only goes for four months, if there were 7-8 months, the players will get more moments to explore and experience.

Does it bother you that you cannot predict with what formation and combination will ATK Mohun Bagan deploy?

Vukomanovic: No, it doesn’t because in our preparation we look at ourselves more than our opponents. As a coach, you learn you don’t have to bother with things you cannot control. You have scouting but you cannot know how things will happen. We then look at ourselves, how we want to attack and defend. they are a good side and that’s why they are on the top. We will show we have quality and we will be competitive.

Kerala doesn’t have the best record when it comes to creating goals from set-piece situations. How do you look to improve that?

Vukomanovic: Many teams now don’t care about the beauty of football, they do care a lot about defence and want to be more secure and organised. They want to make use of the chances. With Covid-19 and a tight schedule, it is all about recovery, preparation and game. As a staff, we now need to think about how we want to win games. Sometimes it can be from set pieces or from opponents mistakes.

Here are the excerpts from Diaz’s press conference.

How are you feel ahead of the ATK Mohun Bagan match?

Diaz: I am happy and comfortable with the team. We all play for one team and one purpose for Kerala to be in the top four while enjoying the moment.

What made you choose Kerala Blasters FC?

Diaz: It was an incredible experience to see and witness the energy and fan and that was something I wanted to explore in the stadium.

Because you’re on loan, will you be happy to continue here if an agreement for extension is reached?

Diaz: I come here and if Kerala wants me, it is a possibility, I will be very happy to stay.

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