Kerala Blasters had an impressive game against Jamshedpur FC.

Kerala Blasters continued their impressive form in the Indian Super League (ISL) with a 3-1 win over Jamshedpur FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi on Tuesday. Apostolos Giannou, Dimitrios Diamantakos and Adrian Luna all got into the score sheet, helping their side stretch their undefeated run to eight games and move back up into third place in the standings.

Vukomanovic delighted with big win

Ivan Vukomanovic was a happy man with the win, as he expressed his feelings after the game and said: “Well, yes (I’m happy)! We are coming to the topic that we are in the most important part of the season. The whole of December and the first part of January are crucial for the ISL season. As a team, if you are capable enough to stay unbeaten and collect points in this period, then you are on the right path.

“After a few changes in the season with new faces at the start, we started rebuilding and so far we’re happy with the progress and improvement of many players. The youngsters have done well coming into the team. It’s a kind of process you must respect and this positive flow of being unbeaten in eight games is special for us. Seeing our past in the previous seasons where we struggled to reach a higher level and now we are among the best for the second season in a row. I was delighted to see the boys play nice and quality football with good combinations. Happy with the win and hope to continue in this way,” he also added.

Praise for Adrian Luna’s role and Jamshedpur challenge

Adrian Luna played in a centre-midfield role and that caused Jamshedpur to create counter-attacking chances through midfield. When asked if he was worried about that, the gaffer explained: “Adrian Luna did a great job in centre-midfield. I think he was magnificent. He knows all the positions, he’ll even play as a full-back without a problem if needed. We knew Jamshedpur FC would play with a different formation, they played against FC Goa with this and they did well. They played well, and the confidence they had in that game even though they conceded a late goal in the draw, they were good. We expected them to start strongly.

“We wanted them to be focused on our compact midfield lines and use those empty spaces on the sides. Also created many chances from the wings, which helped resulted in two goals, we also had many other opportunities to score. As a team, when you practice certain things and you see that happening on the pitch, you are happy. In the second half, we struggled at times because they changed the system, we knew we had to deal with long balls and duel for second balls. But the boys were good. We knew it is going to be a difficult moment.

“Like, for example, last week was the Christmas period when everybody was casual. We as a team, we don’t want to be casual. We are delighted with the three points as we are third on the league standings and we have more points now than we did in this period last season. Now with this positive flow of eight games without defeat, we hope to continue this,” he also stated.

Which areas of Kerala Blasters’ game need to be improved?

Upon being questioned on which areas of Kerala Blasters’ game he wants to improve upon, Ivan Vukomanovic said: “As a coach, when you look into the previous game, so let’s say tomorrow when we have a sleep and think about situations I didn’t like in this game, then with the coaching staff there will be talks and you decide to work on certain topics. Whether it’s working on your defensive line, offensive movement or some other things. That’s the beautiful thing about a coach’s job in football. It’s a never-ending job. It can never happen that at one point as a coach, you can say ‘everything is perfect’. That is never the case.

“There is always something to improve. If not with the team, then on an individual basis you look to improve some players. There are many players here who didn’t start at the ISL level or those who didn’t even start the season with us. Today, we had four players playing with antibiotics, so they had a case of flu and didn’t feel that good – had throat problems and that. The likes of Dimi (Diamankatos), (Apostolos) Giannou, Jessel (Carneiro) and Luna – they played on antibiotics. It’s great to see them even in difficult circumstances play like that. As a coach, you continue working every day, you cannot stop,” he further quipped.

Ivan Kalyuzhnyi’s return

Ivan Kalyuzhnyi will be back in action for Kerala Blasters in the next game after serving his suspension period. But the coach doesn’t believe that’ll give him a headache, as Ivan Vukomanovic said: “In our work at Kerala Blasters, we are very honest with each other. I always communicate with the players about our plans, how we want to play and what we want to achieve. It’s a rule that only four foreign players can play together on the pitch, so for the coach, it’s kind of a luxury problem to pick the right combination.

“Anyone can play. I’m happy that we have no injuries right now. Then as a coach, you make a decision. The boys know their job and are professional, they know how things work in football. For us, this is not a head it all depends on how the opponent is. If you want to play with four midfielders or three up front. For the next game, we’ll sleep over tonight and then we’ll prepare for the next game in the next days,” he further explained.

How can Rahul KP improve his game?

When asked if he feels like Rahul KP needs to improve his final product to reach the next level in his game,Ivan Vukomanovic explained:  “He needs to repeat many things in the final third. I’m speaking about movement, and finishing and I tell him every time when we have individual sessions. You must know that in football, it happens once in a while that in one region you get one country like a gift from the gods – I’m speaking like Messi or from Croatia we can talk about Luka Modric. And then you can create many things around those players. In every other aspect of football, as a coach you work with the players. You recognize talent or potential, you work on it. So whatever you want to talk about, be it Rahul, Dimi, Sahal (Abdul Samad) or Bryce (Miranda), they need to work.

“Nobody is born with the quality and nobody learns everything from their birth. It’s important that you need to repeat things every day in every training session. You repeat as a coach that if things happen in a certain game, you have to make sure to do it in the proper way. As a coach I would never tell players what to do with the ball on the pitch, we provide options, but it’s up to them with their decision-making. He doesn’t have to be ready, he just needs to continue working. Last season he missed the whole season and now he’s back. He needs consistency and support from everyone. He’s a great guy and a good player, so I hope he can help the team even more in the next few months,” he finished off with.

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