Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was displeased with the result, but was proud of the way the team responded in the second half as KBFC went down 0-2 to Mumbai City FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Kochi, on Friday. 

The Blasters began their campaign with a win, but have now suffered their third-straight defeat in the Hero ISL 2022-23 season, and a second in a row at home. Vukomanovic backed his team to bounce back in their next game as he shed light on what went wrong for his team against the Islanders.

Here are the excerpts from his post-match press conference:

You earlier said that you wanted your team to react first to the second balls and be more aggressive. Your team didn’t seem to get the message. What do you think?

Well, you know, as a coach, it makes me unhappy. First of all, because of the loss for the fans and everybody. It makes me frustrated because as a coach, using your energy repeating these kinds of things every day. These kinds of things are actually the things that have to be there. And then from the other end, looking at the difference between the first and second half, then it makes you wonder, and ask yourself like, why can’t we start like that? Because nobody can say that we cannot do it. In every game so far and last season, we showed that we are capable of doing that. So it's about moments of personality, motivation, being responsible, being brave, wanting to go out and fight. It’s these kinds of things (that matter) on this level. Not only in the Hero ISL, but worldwide. If you don't have those kinds of things, you can never win games and that's clear. So, from one side I was angry, frustrated, watching that first half when we were not good in duels and second balls.

We were not do those things. And then in the second half, it changed. There were certain things that we had to say at half-time to awaken ourselves from that moment. In the second half, we actually saw the way we wanted to play, the way we wanted to push our opponent, the way we wanted to create chances, and it made me happy because I saw a couple of good moments.

But in football, we can speak about bad luck. In professional sport, and especially football, you have to deserve some luck. Seeing the performance of the first half, we didn't deserve to win. The chances we had in the second half gives us this positive attitude, and reference that we have to be like that. We have to continue like that and work on it. Three losses back-to-back makes you doubt yourself, but again, we as a team, will sleep over it, work even harder and then prepare for the next game because that’s the only way.

Would you agree that the team had some good individual moments, but your team underperformed as a unit?

When you play against a strong opponent like Mumbai City FC, you have to know that you will have to deal with things like being aggressive in the duels and making the runs. They have good players who can keep the ball under pressure. When you have individual qualities like Rahul KP and Dimitrios Diamantakos, these are the players who can make a difference. Of course, you want to use them in certain positions. You want to use them a certain way. We knew exactly why we wanted Rahul on the right side, making these moments and having these one-on-one situations. We wanted to create those things and he was good. This is his first game that he has started this season and he was good in possession, in pressing, in individual actions. He was defending and he was dangerous.

If we speak about quality work against a good team, you have to be organised. Something that was not good was that our midfield was stretched away in the first half. We almost lost all the balls from our midfield in the first half. We lost all the duels and we gave the impression that our team was disconnected, because we did not show heart in the first half. In the second half, we were much better in both possession, constructing, making difference and that's the way we want to organise. When we fix the left and right side to create these moments one against one, supplying crosses and being dangerous.

We have to continue these things and we have many things to work on. Especially now again, after three losses, but that's the only way. We have to stay positive with a smile, but it will be a tough night. I like watching the game a little bit later on, and then work on things. We will start again with the team talks and training session because this is the only way it has been to be done.

What are the positives you take away from this game?

First of all, I need to tell myl players that the first half must never repeat. Because that's the way that we don't want to play. This is the image of what we don't want to look like. In the second half, what makes me happy is the way that we as a team are capable of reacting to situations.

I wouldn't be more worried if we played an excellent first half and then in the second half, we crawl down and then you lose the game. That is the biggest issue. In this case, we showed ourselves that we are capable of getting back in the game by being sharp and being strong. Doesn’t matter against whom because we want to push. For the players as well, it must be a positive boost and it shows that they can do it. Then on the basis of those things, we go back to basics and try to improve. And then, use the second half as a reference saying, 'We can do it. Let's go for it.'

Considering the way the team has been conceding goals, can we expect a change in system?

This is actually something that the technical staff takes into consideration every day. There are always thoughts among the technical staff like changing and trying something. Maybe exploring something new. There are many new ideas that we want to try, but it also depends how the players will fit in a certain formation. If we go back to the two halves, it was not a question about the shape or formation because it was about the character, mentality and how we would respond. All the tactics, all the systems are good. There is not one that is bad. So the way we played, we will try to work on that back. I will try to solve problems and issues and who knows, maybe in the next period we might change something.