The head coach also spoke about giving chances to the young players against Odisha.

Sandeep Singh scored a late goal as Kerala Blasters defeated Odisha FC in the Indian Super League (ISL 2022-23) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Monday. Ivan Vukomanovic’s side were quite poor in the first half as OFC created more chances. However, KBFC started the second half brilliantly, with emerging as the ultimate winner in the encounter. The win takes KBFC to the third position straight from sixth. 

Ivan Vukomanovic met the media for the post-match press conference to discuss his side’s performance in the game. Here’s what the Kerala Blasters boss said:

What changes did you make in the second half?

The tactician said that Odisha FC took complete control of the game in the first half. But he admitted that his side were not casual since they are at the end of the season. He also said that his team got the game physically in the middle of the second half. 

“Not only at half time. We are in a comfort zone period. When team’s take it easy, you lose games. So we knew that this game today against Odisha FC will be one of our most important games this season and one of the most difficult ones. Odisha FC is a very good team, physically very tough team, good in pressing. And I think that we had that fight against them till the middle of the second half where actually we physically got more on top of the situation and started creating more chances. We knew that the first half would be very tough. Even though we lost so many second balls, we were not that sharp. But we were not casual.”

Giving Sandeep Singh a chance

Ivan Vukomanovic said that it is a kind of coaching choice to decide whom to give chances. According to him, Sandeep Singh, Harmanjot Khabra and Nishu Kumar can play as the right full-back. But he decided to give more chances to Sandeep just because of the coaching choice and it has nothing to do with other players. He also said that he always likes to give chances to all players and he is happy with the players who are there in the squad.

 “I’m very pleased as a coach of Kerala Blasters to have a squad of 20 something players. We also have many young players coming in. If we speak about the position of right full-back we have today’s goal-scorer Sandeep, we have Khabra Paaji, we even have Nishu Kumar who can play on both sides. And it was kind of a coaching choice throughout the season depending on our opponent always.” 

“As a coach I always like to give a player a chance, to show the qualities. not only footballing quality in the training session but also in the games like that. I like to give those players more playing time. When I give somebody, let’s say Sandeep or Khabra both of them are quality players. I like them both. Both of them can play at any time. So, I’m happy with all of them in the squad,” he added. 

About the changes made in the match

The mentor said that after getting more yellow cards in the Odisha FC game, everyone is a bit nervous. So the coaching team decided to give chances to young players with pace and who have the ability to destroy the opponent’s defence line.

“We saw in the second half that our opponents were going a little bit down with the pace with the freshness and then we decided to put some quick players with pace who can destroy the defense line, by running in, getting the ball in the space and creating chances and scoring goals. That was our decision. And in the first half we get these yellow cards being a little bit nervous.”

He added, “Then we decided to take back Rahul. But they were all good today. It was nothing. It was just a kind of coaching choice, even like changing one player to play this game. Then we will change again. These young players follow them throughout the process. They were with us in the pre-season. They train with us. There is a time you want to give them this feeling. It is very important for their career.” 

About Puitea’s contract with KBFC

Vukomanovic said that the coaches and players will come and go. It is just part of the game. Everybody will have to leave once. He added that Puitea is a very talented player and wished him all the best.

“In professional football, the players and coaches come and go. It is part of the process. He was one of the most important players last season. He did it greatly. Most probably he has some options now. I wish him all the best. He is a great guy.”

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