We’re preparing for each game like it’s a final: Kerala Blasters FC’s Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic stated that his team is full of confidence and will be prepared to face any team ahead of his side’s clash against FC Goa in match 46 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season on Sunday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.

In his first year at Kerala Blasters FC, Vukomanovic has been phenomenal for his side, achieving a seven-match unbeaten run -- best unbeaten run in the history of the Kochi-based side. While speaking about the upcoming fixtures, the 44-year-old also expressed his views on FC Goa’s new gaffer, Derrick Pereira.

Prior to Kerala Blasters FC’s match against FC Goa, Vukomanovic addressed the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

Since a few players have left the team on loan, will there be any new reinforcements in the transfer window?

The group of foreign players will remain the same. Anything happens in the transfer market; you never know if certain things can move. At the moment, we are very aware of this and we’re waiting for the right situation. So far, nothing has happened, so, at the moment the team will stay the same.

Kerala Blasters FC are cruising past teams that play possession-based football, but there is a bit of staggering when the Blasters are facing teams who play direct football. What’s your opinion on that?

No, because I think every game is different and each game has its own approach. Then, you also have to consider the level of fatigue and fitness throughout one momentum in the season. So, at one time, we were very exhausted with three games in seven days. In that time, we also had to think about our approach, fitness level, how we want to attack, how we want to defend, and all these details, putting in one big puzzle.

Kerala Blasters FC went into a break after a brilliant run of three matches. Did the break help in rejuvenating the side? What sort of decisions did you have with the players?

Of course, the break helped us after that exhausting week. We got a whole week to refresh up a little bit to recharge our batteries. With a good end to the year and a fresh New Year’s Eve, it brings positive energy and feelings. It helped us to recover well, with the fact that we play those tight schedules in January.

How do you place the quality of the Hero Indian Super League? What do you think the league can improve on?

Any team can beat the other one in this league. So, you can never predict the results because even the top teams can lose against the bottom-placed teams and that’s what we’ve seen. Of course, the league can improve by implementing modern technologies like VAR [Video Assistant Referee] and Goal-Line Technology, improving referee’s decision making would help too. But anyway, the league is still developing in the right way. Hopefully with more teams in the future, the league will be on a longer term than it is right now.

Kerala Blasters FC will be facing FC Goa - which have a new and experienced head coach in Derrick Pereira. How do you think this will help in the long-term future of the league and football in the country?

If the management of any club decides and feels that a domestic coach has that approach and quality, he needs to be on that boat. I agree that players who have the quality, who have the potential, must be given a chance, so why not the same for the coaches. If they have the quality and the potential, then they must be given a chance. That’s how you develop and increase the level of your football.

Do you think winning the league is something of a realistic target you’ve set for yourself now that we’re halfway through the season?

We’ve seen what all can happen in this league. We’re thinking of one team being in the finals, one team on the top, but now we see completely different outcomes and different results than our expectations. I was fully confident that with our approach and the way we work with the players, with the goalkeepers or every possible aspect that we will improve and create a team that can be very tough in this league. But it’s football, there’s always an element of surprise.

Nobody was expecting that we’re going to beat the current champions but that’s football. Every game we’re playing for us is a final. That’s why we want to give our everything. As a team, we are building ourselves, we are strong, we are tough, not only for now but also for the future that Kerala Blasters is a strong side to beat. So, we have to be humble and continue working our way because it’s still a long way.

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