The KBFC head coach addressed the media along with defender Enes Sipovic ahead of their final Durand Cup group stage fixture.

Kerala Blasters play their final fixture of Group C in the Durand Cup 2021 against Delhi FC. They find themselves in the second position and need nothing less than three points to qualify for the knockout rounds. Ahead of the game, Kerala Blasters head coach Ivan Vukomanovic and defender Enes Sipovic spoke to the media.

Thoughts on previous game

Kerala Blasters were in the news for getting three red cards against Bengaluru FC in their last match. When asked about his thoughts on the previous game and the three red cards, Ivan Vukomanovic said, “First half, we had control of the game with a goal. In the second half, I think the officials, lost kind of grip of the game, that affected the fact that some of the players and their reactions on the pitch. I think that the red card, they get correctly, okay. But, I think that it should have never happened. I think that even if they are provoked or they lose, they should not respond like that.

“Of course, I was not pleased with their reaction and I told them afterwards. So actually, their biggest punishment will be tomorrow, they will not be personally participating in the games and actually, also for the future. It also gives us the coaching staff, kind of insight about playing games. So, we’ll see for the next time. I think that we had the game under control,” he further added.

Poor training conditions in Kolkata

Ivan Vukomanovic was also asked if he will go all out. This is because they need nothing less than a victory and how will he plan for tomorrow with many key players ruled out.

“Since we arrived in Kolkata, we have only had five training sessions. We couldn’t train the day before our games because the training grounds are under water. And today is the same case, heavy rain started again last night and we’ve been visiting the training grounds to see if it will be possible to train because we have our training for this afternoon. Most probably we will not be able to go on the pitch, because all the training grounds are under water. Yesterday we had one training session and last training we had seven days ago. I think this part of pre-season period is total timewasting,” rued Ivan Vukomanovic.

“I think that tomorrow if we speak about a football game, it will not look like a football game, it will just be rolling in the mud. We will see about the players who will participate or not, because, again, today would be the third time that we cannot train the day before the game. Even tomorrow it will be like fighting in the bottom and it won’t look like a football game. We have to proceed about our ISL pre-season period preparation, still these last reinforcements,” the coach added.

Update on Chencho and Sahal

WATCH: Ivan Vukomanovic and Enes Sipovic addresses the media ahead of Tuesday’s Durand Cup clash

Ivan Vukomanovic also gave us an update on the availability of Bhutanese striker Chencho Gylsten and Sahal Abdul Samad. “Both Sahal and Chencho trained only twice with us because we didn’t have training sessions due to bad weather conditions. These players had long break. They haven’t played not even one minute with us, we have to take care about that because we are preparing them for the ISL, not the Durand Cup,” he explained.

Pre-season preparations

Ivan Vukomanovic was asked if Kerala Blasters will play more friendlies ahead of the ISL, as few of their players are yet to gain match fitness. He replied, “Yes, of course. There are two games already organized in Goa, on 12th, and 15th of November and probably there will be two more games in October. We will probably enter into bubble in October. I think on 8th and 15th of October in Goa and 12th, and 5th of November in Goa, So, at least in Goa we will have four games.

“Again, we are grateful and thankful that we had the opportunity to play these three games in the Durand Cup. I know that it’s quite difficult to organize games during this time in India. So, we will do our best and try to organize them, at least have four more games in Goa or maybe five,” he concluded.

Enes Sipovic’s comments

Kerala Blasters have quality options to deploy in the central defensive role. Enes Sipovic was asked about how he sees the challenge of competing for a place in the starting XI.

“We are now five centre-backs including me. I believe it will very difficult for the coach to decide who’s going to play because all the players show determination in the training sessions. We will see when the ISL starts and it’s on the coach. For us, as players, the best as possible is when we get the opportunity to play to show ourselves and then one man decides who is going to play,” he answered.

The defender plied his trade with Chennaiyin FC last season before joining the Blasters. Sipovic was asked about why he chose Kerala Blasters over any other club. In reply, he said, “I had few offers from Middle East, from Israel and Oman on the table. And then I got an offer from Kerala, because I know the league I felt good last year in the Indian Super League, I have experience of playing in the bubble. I decided to come in Kerala and also knowing that Kerala has the amazing base of supporters.

“It’s nice to represent colours of Kerala Blasters. Also, this year was opportunity to see some of them during our pre-season in Kochi. I feel a little bit of these supporters when we play the friendly games and the way from hotel to training ground. It was nice, at least you see them, you go say hello to them. Last season was not like that because we were completely in bubble and it was really difficult,” he concluded.

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