We must not be relaxed: Kerala Blasters FC’s Ivan Vukomanovic
Kerala Blasters FC head coach shared his thoughts ahead of their clash against Mohun Bagan Super Giant.
Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic remains cautious as they prepare to take on Mohun Bagan Super Giant in Matchweek 12 of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Kerala Blasters FC currently holds the second position in the league table with 23 points from 11 games, having won seven games, drawn twice, and lost twice this season.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant is positioned third in the league table with 19 points from nine games, securing six wins, one draw, and two losses this season.
The Mariners are not in their best form lately, having suffered 4-1 and 2-1 losses to FC Goa and Mumbai City FC in their last two games. Despite this, Vukomanovic emphasizes the need for his team to maintain focus, expressing concern about the threat that the Mariners possess.
“The best teams are the most dangerous when they are wounded. We must not think that it's an easy job,” Vukomanovic stated in the pre-match press conference.
“They have a very good team, very good players and a very good coach and they are playing at (their) home. They want to prove themselves to everybody that they have quality,” he added.
“We must not be relaxed because it will be a very difficult game. We have to be on our top-most ability to achieve something there,” the head coach continued.
Greek forward Dimitrios Diamantakos is currently enjoying an outstanding season, showcasing remarkable form on the field. With six goals and two assists to his name, he stands at the forefront of the Golden Boot race.
Vukomanovi recognises Diamantakos' skills and impact on the team.
“Strikers like Dimi are very dangerous when they are in the box. Dimi is capable of creating chances for himself from nothing” Vukomanovic said.
“The good thing with strikers like him is that he is always hungry to score more goals. He always wants to compete and show that he is one of the best,” he added.
Kerala Blasters FC have faced the challenge of unfortunate injuries to several key players since the beginning of the season. Australian forward Jaushio Sotirio was among the initial casualties, and as the season progressed, the team saw the likes of Jeakson Singh, Aiban Dohling, Adrian Luna, and Freddy Lallawmawma succumb to injuries.
Vukomanovic acknowledges the difficulty of coping with injuries to crucial players. However, he also emphasized the team's resilience and the imperative to keep moving forward despite these setbacks.
“When these things happen of course you are sad, especially when it happens to your important players. But in that moment you have to deal with that situation and continue,” he said.
“We are very sorry that we are missing Luna, Jeakson, Freddy, Aiban and Sotirio who are important players with quality. However, we have to find a way,” he added.
“The rest of the players, especially youngsters and experienced players are sticking together trying to be strong as a team and trying to win games,” Vukomanovic continued.
I am enjoying here: Prabir Das
Kerala Blasters FC fullback Prabir Das joined head coach Ivan Vukomanovic in the pre-match press conference. Having played six games this season, Das brings valuable experience to the team.
Notably, Das spent two seasons with Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the ISL, participating in numerous memorable games for the Mariners. Expressing immense respect for his former club, Das anticipates a challenging encounter, acknowledging that Mohun Bagan Super Giant will be a formidable opponent, aiming for three crucial points against Kerala Blasters FC.
“They are one of my previous clubs but I respect them,” Das said.
“Now they are more dangerous because they have lost their previous two games so they will be hungry to win against us but we also have a plan so let's see what happens,” he added.
Das joined Kerala Blasters FC in the summer of the 2023-24 season and expressed satisfaction with the team management and also the atmosphere created by the supporters.
“I am enjoying here. The crowd, coaching staff and management are very good so I am very happy here,” the defender commented.