Kerala Blasters face a toiling Jamshedpur FC on Tuesday.

Kerala Blasters hope to continue their climb to the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) when they face a toiling Jamshedpur FC side on Tuesday. The Yellow Army have won 6 out of their last 7 games and are in a hot run of form in the competition.

Objective for second half of the season

Ivan Vukomanovic wants his side to continue their impressive run of form heading into the new year, as he said in his pre-match press conference.

“We’re in one part of the season where we work really good and progress with the squad. They’re happy with our medical report and with what is happening around. We hope to continue like this. When you start increasing the physical and mental results and when that helps you get results, you get self-confidence as a team to overcome any opposition and be consistent. That is our objective for the second half of the season. We want to continue the same way as we’ve played in the last 7 games. We want to stay among the best and on top of everything,” he added.

Kerala Blasters’ unpredictable style praised

Kerala Blasters have had a variety of goal-scorers in the last few games and Vukomanovic wants them to maintain their unpredictability going forward. He said: “As a team, you want to be unpredictable. You want to have diversity in many other ways. If you are only occupied and busy with one of the strong pints, that means you can be easily tactically read by the opponents. When they close down your strong points, if that’s only one, you’ll suffer and have difficulties to score goals.

“That’s why we work in different ways and different teams. As a team we are unpredictable, of course tough to score past, but we work in a variety of ways where we can score with many players. You want to work like that and that’s how I see as a coach. We don’t want to be concentrated on one or two things, be It offensive or be reliant on one-two players that can score goals. We want to be different, where anyone can contribute in scoring goals. I hope that can continue,” he added.

Vukomanovic wary of dangerous Jamshedpur FC

Ivan Vukomanovic still regards Jamshedpur FC as a dangerous team and expects them to give a tough challenge, despite them being on a horrible losing run. He explained: “I think they’ve changed in their approach of games in the last few weeks. They’ve changed the squad, they’ve brought more quality. From game to game, when you look at tomorrow’s opponent., they’re in a period where they struggle to get positive results. They have lead games and have positive momentum at times, but they’ve failed to find the grip and get the points. They’re a dangerous team, if you look at last season’s table, they have quality. They’re physically tough.

“You need to be 100% in every duel, corner kick or long throw in to defeat them. If we as a team want to achieve a positive result tomorrow, we need to be 100% ready. We can’t be casual knowing that we are in a 7-game unbeaten run or we’re the better team. No. We must stay aggressive and hope for the best result. We can’t think about their position and that’s they’re not strong. They can harm you if you think like that,” he further quipped.

Why was Puitea sold to ATK Mohun Bagan?

Ivan Vukomanovic spoke about their decision to sell Puitea to ATK Mohun Bagan, explaining: “We must never forget that when a player finds himself in an environment or in one club, I speak from a personal perspective as I had this feeling a long time ago. When you are a competitive player, you have a hunger for a new challenge. You have hunger for another environment. We will never stop one player when they express the motivation to leave the club, which was the case with Puitea. He wanted a new challenge. There is an aspect of life when they have a btter offer or more profitable or whatever.

“I accept that as a former player, when that happens we will never stop as a player or do anything wrong. We cooperated when he told his feeling for a new challenge. ATKMB are a direct rival and need a player like that. It’s always better to let a player like him leave and give him new energy rather than keep him. He was one of the important players last season and contributed a lot on and off the pitch. He’s a great human being and we wish him all the best. This kind of new challenge is attractive and gives him new energy. A football career is really short and these things happen,” he added.

Vukomanovic explains Ivan Kalyuzhnyi’s future at Kerala Blasters

Vukomanovic also spoke on the future of on-loan midfielder Ivan Kalyuzhnyi, hinting that they have someone in line to replace him next season. He said: “It’s already done. We have someone who will replace him. We have quality players in our squad. Can’t really say much about the new signing, but we’ll announce them very soon. As a club, you anticipate those things so we have things planned in that case. We are ready for his situation.”

When further persisted on if Kerala Blasters can sign him permanently in the summer, the gaffer explained: “If you look at the European market, first they have many circumstances which helped us have him on loan. Now because of the difficult situation in his home country, a lot is happening there. He is under contract with his club, in the European market, this kind of player costs a lot. I think the transfer fee of those clubs in Europe is never matched by ISL teams. Even all the teams together can’t afford those transfer fees. But in football anything is possible.

“If in the future the player himself wants to continue with us, things could happen. But his value is very high, it’s more than six-digit number. This kind of things puts you in a difficult situation. We’ll see with him till the end of the season. He’s under contract with his club for five years. He’s coming with great football education with Dynamo Kyiv. But we’ll see. I knew at the start of the season that he’s someone who can give us something extra. We’ll evaluate his situation at the end of the season, and if there’s any possibility, we might work towards a deal,” he also stated.

Can young players get more chances?

Finally, when asked if players like Byrce Miranda, Saurav Mandal and Sachin Suresh will get more game-time going forward, Ivan Vukomanovic said: “Absolutely. When a young player comes over from the I-League, my experience from what we’ve followed in the last year, there is a huge difference in ISL and I-League. When you come to ISL, there is a different style of playing, working, and different intensity and approach. These players need some time to adapt and it’s not about a month or two.

“These players, when they’re young, they need time to adapt. They need to adapt to the new teammates, coaching style and training intensity. So far, they’ve shown quality and I’m sure we’ll see them more and more going forward. They are young, they have potential, and as a coach I love seeing them evolve and improving in training. Of course, when we have a chance, we’ll give them more opportunities to play in front of our fans,” he finished off with.

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