The Kerala Blasters tactician shared his plans ahead of the eliminator in Bengaluru.

Kerala Blasters suffered a 1-0 defeat in their final league stage fixture to Hyderabad FC, with a solitary goal from Borja Herrera proving to be the winning moment. The loss confirms fifth place on the table for Kerala Blasters, and an away eliminator fixture against Bengaluru FC. Ivan Vukomanovic’s side have now lost their last three games.

The Serb shared his thoughts on the game and the preparations for the upcoming knockout fixture in the post-match press conference. Edited excerpts are as follows.

On the refereeing

Ivan Vukomanovic went in with his strongest lineup, despite some key players picking up yellow cards. Ivan Kalyuzhnyi picked up his seventh yellow card for the season, and will miss the playoff game against Bengaluru, while Hormipam Ruivah and Marko Leskovic got their third bookings. The coach was upset with the decisions of the referees,

“Well because we wanted him (Ivan) to play this game and we had clear communication also with him to be careful not to make anything stupid. Even with that duel, he didn’t even see that player behind him.

And then, in my opinion, again, the decision of referees, it was not even a yellow card, but then it’s you have like ten people jumping on you, influencing you, shouting at you. “So these kinds of things with the officials make us all frustrated, like, throughout the whole season. Everybody, not only us today or with that decision or we witnessed so many decisions. To punish him like that, then again, at the end also Leskovic, with this kind of yellow, it’s better not even to speak about the referee’s decisions. And we had that meeting last year before the season started, how it will be.
How so? With all due respect, this year it was not the case. But we have to live with it. We have to accept those things. Now Ivan is suspended. We have to do it without him. We have enough players. So we’ll find somebody who will be playing in the midfield.

Vibin Mohanan excelled in midfield for the Blasters and impressed Ivan Vukomanovic with his technical ability, “Vibin Mohanan had a good game, he has a bright future. Because that kind of fine technical player in the midfielder, there aren’t a lot of them in India. So we are happy with that. We have our players there like Danish, Ayush, Luna. So we’ll find found the solution. We’ll try to be stronger in Bengaluru.”

Sahal’s lacklusture outing

Sahal now has three goals and two assists to show for from 19 appearances, and compared to last year, has looked a different player. Ivan Vukomanovic said that him and his staff support all the players, On Sahal playing games, showing quality, getting confidence, it’s a personal thing. As a coaching staff, always in the club, we always support every player. We’re always correct in giving playing time, talking in a training session, and everything.

“And then the players, when they come to these kinds of situations, playing important games, first of all, where the stakes are high, these kind of games then the players, they have to step up, they have to show the quality, they have to show the personality. That’s the difference on the highest level.”

Positives to take from the game

On being asked what positives can be took from the defeat to Hyderabad and what was lacking, Ivan Vukomanovic answered, ” We wanted to try to play football to create something, because we know that the fans also they like to see that. We knew before the game that it will be going around one goal again.
Because when you face Hyderabad, who actually, I think conceded the least goals in a season, so we know that we are facing a tough team with tough organization, physical football.

“Even though we were losing many duals and second balls, but this is again the positioning on the pitch, which we wanted to explore. When you want to pass the ball around, create something, I think that we were good until the last third and then we were missing this last pass, this last lucidity of some players who can create that last moment of magic with a good pass and that we’re missing tonight. We have to prepare for Friday.

“Again, the fans there were splendid, great big thanks to them because they are our force, hope they will come again with huge numbers in Bengaluru so that we again feel like we are at home because the last time it was the case.

Plans ahead of a season-defining fixture

The Blasters travel to the Kanteerava Stadium to take on the rampant Blues in a massive fixture. Ivan Vukomanovic was dismayed at the lack of training grounds in Bengaluru, “Well, most of the players, they will have recovery tomorrow. Then what we will have to organize, because in such a big city in Bengaluru, there is not a one training ground that you can go there and train practice. So we have to organize our training session here and then because the last time we played in Bengaluru we went there hoping that we will get that pitch to train but it was not the case so it was not even possible to go there.

“So we skipped that training normally. Now we know that we cannot have a football pitch in Bengaluru to practice so we’ll organize our programs here tomorrow to recover. Some players will train tomorrow a little bit more.
Then again, just refresh. Because now when the playoffs start, you don’t have any time, no more for training. It’s only games recovery, refresh, games, recovery.

“And most probably many players will suffer. But that’s the case. That’s the format of this league, and you have to get to it. So that’s it. You just have to mix and match and see how do some players respond and get the best out of it.”

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and join our community on Telegram.