The Blasters head coach expects his team to approach the upcoming game in a professional manner.

Kerala Blasters FC travel to the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata to face East Bengal FC for their next Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 fixture. The Yellow Army is close to securing their place in the league playoffs, and three points on the road will aid in achieving the seasonal objective. KBFC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic is prepared to ease Marko Leskovic back from injury, and spoke of Danish Farooq’s quality.

Ivan Vukomanovic is aware of the threat EBFC will bring to the table and expects the game to be tough. At the same time, he hopes to give young players enough game time in the forthcoming matches. 

Karanjit Singh joined the head coach for the media interactions ahead of the game. They answered questions and gave interesting insights before the clash on Friday. Here are the excerpts from the press conference.

Danish Farooq – a perfect fit

Ivan Vukomanovic insists that signing Danish Farooq was not a choice made in haste. He admires the player who is a perfect fit for the club. He said, “Danish was on our list since last year and we think that he is a quality player. The character and mentality he possesses make him a perfect fit for Kerala Blasters. Adrian Luna playing as the midfielder in the previous game was a choice depending on the opponent. He is a quality player and wherever we put him, he will get the job done.”

“We were the only team (last season) that was playing without a foreign player in the midfield and yet we reached the final…I am certain all the fans will appreciate Danish as a player for Kerala Blasters,” he continued.

Rest for Marko Leskovic

The tactician will not take a risk on Marko Leskovic in the game against East Bengal, as the Croatian works towards regaining full fitness. Ivan Vukomanovic said, “No, we will not start him tomorrow. We are aware of the end of the competition and if everything goes right we plan to compete in the playoffs. We are also thinking for the long term, it would be unreasonable to sacrifice or push or make it worse and lose an important player for the long term. So, we’ll give him one more game to recover fully.”

Everyone deserves to play

Explaining his rotation in team selection, Vukomanovic stated that there is no certainty of a starting place for any player in the team. There should always be a competition for places and he aims to give young players opportunities to show their talent. He said, “As a football team, you must have 20 players who are ready to play any game. Since last year, in the second season in a row, we want our squad to be wide enough that everyone should know there is no certainty of a starting eleven spot. There are younger players to pick up your spot, who work hard and fight for places.”

“All the players we sign, are at Kerala Blasters for a reason. They all deserve to play and as a coach I like to give them time and space to play, to show their qualities,” he further added in this context.

Vary of East Bengal FC

The head coach is not taking the upcoming opponents lightly. He believes that EBFC deserves more than they have got this season and his team must not allow them to showcase their qualities. 

“I think they find themselves in a spot where they don’t deserve to be in. They have lost many points due to certain circumstances. They have a really good team, a really good squad with quality and it won’t be easy (facing them). If you allow this kind of team to play and show their qualities then you can suffer, that is a fact. This season, they have proved many times that they can produce good things,” he said while speaking about the club from Kolkata.

Karanjit Singh on getting a chance to shine

Karanjit Singh took his place between the sticks for KBFC and got a clean sheet against NEUFC in the previous game. Speaking to the reporters about his experience, he said “It is true that I played after a long time but in that period I trained well. Tomorrow’s match is going to be tough because East Bengal FC is a good team. It was a good feeling to make a debut for such a big club. The most important thing was getting the three points.”

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