The tactician also thanked the fans for coming out to the stands in such bizarre conditions.

Kerala Blasters narrowly emerged victorious in the first Southern Derby of the ISL 2022-23 by a scoreline of 3-2. The Blues equalised in the first half courtesy Sunil Chhetri’s spot kick. But after that, two goals in either halves ended the game in the Blasters’ favour. The win is the fifth in a row for Ivan Vukomanovic’s side and there couldn’t have been any better occasion than against rivals Bengaluru FC in front of the Manjapaddas.

Pleased by the victory, head coach Ivan Vukomanovic addressed the media after the game in the post-match press conference. Here are the excerpts from his statements.

Thoughts on the derby win

Ivan was first asked to put up his thoughts on the Southern derby win and elaborate on the performance of the team.

“Yes, absolutely I am delighted with the victory. When you see the history of the Southern derby and what it means to both teams. Of course, you want to play a good game in a derby and win the game and collect points. And I said earlier that this is the time when you have to concentrate and collect points. Otherwise you will lose your position and drop down. It will be hard to collect those points and it was obvious for us to win the game and be among the top teams,” he commented.

The mentor continued, “We are happy for the three points and that too in the southern derby. I am happy for the fans who came out to support us in this weather.”

On the fight back from Bengaluru

Bengaluru FC was not ready to give up till the very last minute and pushed for the equaliser. But the luck favoured the home team a bit more and they managed to keep the lead till the final whistle. Ivan Vukomanovic commented on the tough fight his side got from the Blues throughout the game.

“We knew that this would be a very difficult game because Bengaluru don’t deserve to be where they are now. They are a good team with individual qualities that can decide the game on their own. We knew, against them, we needed to be well prepared, well organised and physically ready. We wanted to press them high in the first half with our full-backs making overlapping runs. And Jeakson and other guys ran a lot and created chances through the middle. I am happy as a coach that we have been practising these things a lot.”

“And yes, in the second half, it was a bit more difficult when they changed the formation and we had to defend more. We decided to drop down and stay compact to avoid breaking out through the lines. It was difficult but the boys played well and we got the third goal from fresh legs,” he completed.

On the improvements needed

Kerala Blasters have looked like a completely new team since the Serbian manager took over last year. The coach was asked if he sees further things that need to be improved in the team to produce even better results. 

“There are many things, not only for saying. But honestly, in this league, many coaches and their teams are doing a great job. Many times, we have to deal with individual mistakes. So, even during the training I give certain situations to the boys and see how they can solve that during the game. But when it happens in the game, it is up to them and that’s what we call decision-making,” he started with.

Ivan continued, “Since my arrival, I have seen many individual errors that led to goals. If as a team we reduce those mistakes and not allow our opponents to capitalise on them, then we can have good results. These mistakes happen very often for young footballers who are starting their career in ISL. A lot of things go in their heads when playing in front of 35,000 people.”

On the support of fans

Ivan Vukomanovic was overwhelmed by the support of home fans in a crucial game like this and thanked them on behalf of the players and the management before signing off.

“I think the support of the Manjapaddas and everybody in the stands was huge. The boys appreciated the fans and enjoyed playing in front of them. It is a pleasure to play in front of those fans. It gives us the force and power to fly on the pitch.”

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