Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic praised his team's defensive prowess after securing a solid win against Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Saturday.

Kerala Blasters FC broke the deadlock through Milos Drincic in the first half, ultimately proving to be the difference between both sides at the full-time whistle. The victory propelled Kerala Blasters FC to the top of the standings, marking their fifth win in seven games. Additionally, the team maintained their unbeaten home run this season, having won four out of five games at Kochi so far. While Vukomanovic expressed delight with the three points, he also commended his team's ability to secure a clean sheet.

“We knew that today we would have to run a lot after the ball and stay compact. We knew that we will have to deliver one very good defensive game, not to concede and try to get the clean sheet. That was in our head. And when you have this kind of group with the mentality and mindset that doesn’t want to let you go through and defends strongly, it makes you happy as a coach,” he said in the post-match press conference.

Both sides had their chances, and Hyderabad FC made it challenging for Kerala Blasters FC to score more goals, while creating opportunities of their own. Despite having more possession and registering more shots, Hyderabad FC had nothing to show for their efforts in the end. Vukomanovic acknowledged that picking up points was more crucial than playing a good brand of football, emphasising the importance of results in the long run.

“It’s always difficult to regain your shape and rhythm (after a break). We knew (it would be difficult), facing this Hyderabad FC (team) who has nothing to lose with good players and good individual quality. In the end, we are happy with the three points, and that’s the only thing that matters. In the beginning of ISL, you know that you have to fight for the points and collect them. Sometimes, you have to forget about the beauty of (playing beautiful) football because if you want to stay high up the table, you have to collect points,” he explained.

Kerala Blasters FC’s midfield trio of Danish Farooq, Vibin Mohanan, and Mohammed Aimen played a crucial role, shielding the defense while providing stability to the midfield. They made it difficult for Hyderabad FC to penetrate their defense and contributed significantly to the clean sheet. Vukomanovic was pleased with how his midfielders executed their roles and expressed delight with their progress.

“Hyderabad FC has two central midfield players, and we wanted (Adrian) Luna always to drop a little bit behind, and with our two midfielders, it always creates a three against two (situation). When you have players like Vibin, Aimen, Danish... They are people who can run a lot. They are people taking the duels, quick and brave,” he said.

“At the moment when the ball goes in a certain area, they know how they have to go and press, how they have to close down the central midfield and not allow them to build up through there and push them towards the side... And then cover that space. They did a good job. They are young guys, but they are improving, which makes me really happy,” he further added.