Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanović emphasized the importance of Saturday's match for both teams in the race for the playoffs as Bengaluru FC host Kerala Blasters FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.

In the reverse fixture in Kochi, Kerala Blasters FC came out winners with a 3-2 scoreline. On Saturday, the Yellow Army is going to face the Blues, which is different from the team they had faced a few months ago. Bengaluru FC brought in Pablo Perez, a Spanish midfielder and changed their style and their starting XI to a considerable extent. Vukomanović is aware of those changes and asked his players to give their full effort in Bengaluru.

"Since we played the first game here in Kochi, many things have changed in Bengaluru FC. They are now in a positive flow with much more confidence in their squad. They changed a couple of players on the pitch, so it's quite different. So against Bengaluru FC, we have to go with full power and be ready for every duel and be ready to compete with their really good players with lots of experience," Vukomanović said in the pre-match press conference.

"They (BFC) can manage the game in the correct way. So, we have to be aggressive. We have to be full of energy, to go and face them and to play one good game. It's an important match for both sides, seeing our opponents. They are in a good flow in a positive line fighting for the playoff spot from outside. We also want to be in the playoff. So, it has always been spicy between these two teams," he added.

Kerala Blasters FC have been suffering due to injuries. Sandeep Singh is out of this season due to an injury suffered in the match against FC Goa. KBFC's main defender Marko Leskovic was injured for a while and missed the last five matches. Similarly, Apostolos Giannou had a fever last week and missed the match against Chennaiyin FC. Vukomanović gave an update on the team news ahead of the clash.

"Apostolos Giannou had a fever but now he has recovered. On Wednesday, he was training with the team. He is back and we hope that we won't see any more cases. Leskovic is fit and has started training. He has additional work with the medical staff. It was a muscle strain injury and not a rupture but still we don't want to take any risk. Injury is healed 99% and now he is upgrading his level," he said.

One big positive for the Kerala Blasters FC are their traveling fans, which makes the team feel at home away from home. The traveling supporters have painted the away stand in yellow against Hyderabad FC and Chennaiyin FC. Vukomanovic expects a similar kind of atmosphere at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium as well, when they would face Bengaluru FC on Saturday and appreciated their constant support.

"We expect to see lots of yellow jerseys, that's for sure. We appreciate their support. Whenever we feel this kind of support, for the players on the pitch, they want to give everything and even give above the limit. That's why we get different results at home and away. The support we are receiving is priceless, it feels good, whether you're playing home or away, but this is extra power for every team, for every player and they must be proud to have this kind of support." Vukomanović commented.

Kerala Blasters FC are currently at the third position in the table with 31 points. While Vukomanović's team is a team to beat on home soil, the same can't be said in their away fixtures. KBFC has lost four of the eight away matches and has only 10 points from the away fixtures. The KBFC head coach explained the reason behind the contradicting forms and wanted to change this in Bengaluru.

"Last year, we were all in the bubble. There was no difference between playing home and away games. This year is a huge difference, we are traveling, then the way the players approach the game and how motivated we are for this kind of games brings you positive results. So, for the next two away games, we have to be physically and mentally ready. This is the only way to be disciplined and concentrated for those games, not making so many individual mistakes which are leading to our goals and if we are focused on these things, we can achieve something nice." he concluded.

Danish Farooq, the latest player signed by the club in the January transfer window, was accompanied by Vukomanović in the pre -match press conference. Earlier, Vukomanović said that Danish was one of the players who was on their list even last year for the reinforcements. Farooq explained what made him choose Kerala Blasters FC and shared his wish in the club.

"If you ask me why I chose Kerala Blasters, it's because of the coach. I really like his playing style and it suits me. I had a chat with him, then I felt like this is the right move for me, that's why I am here. I felt very happy with the (way the fans welcomed me in Kochi). I want to create some good memories here with everyone,” Farooq said in the pre-match conference.

The Srinagar born player played as a Bengaluru FC player in the first part of the Hero ISL 2022-23 and scored the crucial goal for the Blues in the 1-0 against Jamshedpur FC in Bengaluru. The midfielder has 28 tackles and four interceptions to his name and is looking forward to contributing the same again in Bengaluru but this time in the yellow color.

"I have played there before but as the home team player. I'm yet to feel that experience of playing as an away team player, but I'm sure if I get the chance, I will give my 100%. As a team, we will play well, put on a good show there and get the maximum points," he concluded.