Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was pleased with the team’s performance against FC Goa as they recorded a 3-1 win in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, on Sunday. Adrian Luna, Dimitrios Diamantakos and Ivan Kaliuzhnyi were on target for Kerala Blasters, who bounced back after two defeats at home in their previous game. 

This is the Blasters’ second consecutive victory this season and they now sit in the fifth spot on the Hero ISL table. Vukomanovic was delighted with how his side executed their game plan against FC Goa, and he declared that his team showcased that they can play with different styles. 

Here are the excerpts from Vukomanovic’s press conference:

The intensity of pressing seemed a bit compared to the last games and it seemed to worked. So what is the thought process behind that?

As a coach, I always look at the global picture of the organization, our club. Our point of working with these players. We have a lot of young players, who are starting their professional career. And in that process of playing competition, organising things on the pitch, you have to think of to their development and developing different approaches and styles. How to play when we press high, how to sit in the low block and all these things make a compact team. One team can be tough to beat as trying to choose moments how to play against different opponents. Maybe, it can happen that during one game, you want to press high, get the result that you want to sit down back. With these moments, we want our team to be capable of recognising the moments of how and when we need to play with different styles as it was the case tonight.

We knew of course that our tonight’s opponent is one of the best teams in the Hero ISL, especially speaking about ball possession. We knew that there are some key players in this team where if you press them or lock them down and put pressure on them, the value of that team can decrease by a certain percentage. So tonight, we wanted to close down some of these key players. We wanted it to be very intelligent, to reduce the space between the lines, because we analysed this and saw how Goa FC likes to play actually. And actually, by reducing that space, looking down the key players, we actually wanted to orientate them in one part of the pitch and then, locking them down in that part. Pressing over there, recovering the ball going in transitions, and actually creating chances which actually happened in the first and second half as well.

Then, of course, when you score some goals and you have a comfortable lead, you always want to stay focused, always want to stay organised, even after the first half we were saying that the first 15 minutes of the second half will be the key to the game, where actually we need to stay organized and focused altogether. We actually scored the third goal which gave us even more motivation and let's say comfort  to stay organised, stay focused and then push each other till the end. We’re sorry to concede that goal, we wanted to keep with a clean sheet again. That's okay, that's football. We know that Goa FC is a marvelous team with great players. They can punish you anytime they want. So, I'm really glad for the fans that we could witness tonight great three points and we can continue building up.

What are your views about the team's conservative approach in the second half?

If we speak about our opponent, they will dominate every team that they will face because that's the style they'll play. When you speak about Spanish influence, coaching staff, Spanish players, this is the way they play. And sometimes, as a coach, you need to find the key. You need to find the way in which you want to beat them and how you want to score goals. So, in the second half, of course, we wanted to be more organised because we had a 2-0 lead and then, we scored the third goal ten minutes into the second half which gave us extra motivation. If you go with an open guard and attack these kind of teams; you see the way they start the game from behind with the goalkeeper; they wait for you, they want you to come high, and then they want to exploit spaces. They have great players on the ball and then when these runs behind the defensive line, they can punish you.

So, as a coach, you need to find a way, especially coming from a previous period where we had a victory against Northeast United FC. But again, (with the) bad feelings about home games in the past, we wanted to achieve that victory. As a coach and the coaching staff, you sit down and think about how we can do that. And I think, this was one of the ways tonight. Also to show that we can play defensively. We can also play with high press, and it makes me happy because as a team, you improve. As a team, you grow, when you show yourself that we can do it. We are capable of doing that and for the boys, it's a great boost for the next period. So now, it's always up to us how to approach games against different opponents because this is the way how it is in football.

After two outstanding performances from the team, what do you think are the areas to improve?

In the Hero ISL, there are many teams when they start the league, they are still searching for certain solutions. You are looking and you have to find your best options, you have to find your best moments, where the players are. You have to feel how the players feel about those things. And then, the games are going by now and now we are already six games far away. Last season and this season too, many teams are now starting to realise the way and approach they need to collect the points because in this league it's about, especially now and till December and January, needing to collect points so that you can have at least a little bit of comfort, hoping that you can be up there in the playoffs.

So this is our objective. After a couple of games when you explore and try certain things, sometimes you have to make some mistakes in order to see that it was not good. Maybe you have to change and that's the way we want to work. So, we are happy because we showed ourselves that we can achieve points with different styles. As a team it becomes it makes you unpredictable. Every opponent and every game is different. Playing at home with such a marvelous crowd or playing away, it's always different. So for us, it was kind of an interesting week, trying to find that solution. I'm glad that since I arrived here, that last year we played twice and drew against this kind of a team. They (FC Goa) are a great team and they deserve to be high up the rankings. So I wish them all the best for the next period. We will continue to work hard because we need to work hard together to achieve points.