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This was the hardest ever season for me as a coach, says Kerala Blasters coach Ivan Vukomanovic

Published at :April 20, 2024 at 12:57 AM
Modified at :April 20, 2024 at 12:57 AM
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Alen Philip Mathew

The Blasters suffered a heartbreaking loss against Odisha FC

The Kalinga Stadium witnessed a nail-biting intense quarter-final clash between Odisha FC and Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League. In a thrilling encounter, Odisha FC emerged victorious with a 2-1 scoreline in extra time, securing a spot in the semi-finals. Despite the defeat, Kerala Blasters Coach Ivan Vukomanovic shared his thoughts in a post-match conference, shedding light on the game and the challenges faced throughout the season.

Missed opportunities and resilience

Reflecting on the match, Vukomanovic acknowledged the missed opportunities, stating, “Despite the loss, what positive we managed to play one good game, creating many nice chances where actually with being more clinical and more focused in those moments we could have scored a couple of goals even in the first part of the game to make Odisha suffer.”

Importance of capitalizing on chances

He emphasized the importance of capitalizing on chances in knockout games, highlighting the need for concentration and efficiency in front of the goal. “In these kinds of games, you will not have, like I just said down there, 25-30 chances. This is a tough game, this is a knockout phase and whenever you create chances, you have to be concentrated to score those goals,” he added.

Despite the disappointment of elimination, Vukomanovic found happiness in the resilience and growth of his team throughout the season. “The positive is that again for the. I don’t know how many times this season we had to manage to rebuild the team again throughout the season with many issues, many injuries,” he remarked. He expressed pride in the performance of his players, particularly those in their debut season, highlighting their development and integration into the team.

Gratitude towards fans and looking ahead

Acknowledging the support of the fans, Vukomanovic expressed gratitude for their dedication throughout the season. “Whenever we have this kind of support, we will never fail them,” he said, emphasizing the importance of the fans backing to the team’s morale and performance.

As the season draws to a close, Vukomanovic looks ahead to rebuilding momentum for the next campaign, hopeful for the return of injured players and the opportunity for the team to train and play together. “So let’s hope for that further development, getting quality players, which will happen, I’m sure of it, and then refresh a little bit with the vacation,” he stated optimistically.

Ivan opened up about the adversity his team encountered, particularly regarding injuries plaguing his squad. “I don’t want to use this as an excuse, but in a short competition like ISL, the bad thing is when a player has a bad injury, the player has no time to recover and come back. When it happens to all of your key players it is really difficult. It’s not easy to bring in all replacements. These guys who are coming in need 1 ½ – 2 months to adapt. But there is no time and there are games. So you have to rebuild and make these players adapt with the games going on. Since January, there was no time for practice. Many away games and most times in the airport and all.”

The toughest season yet

Reflecting on the season’s challenges, Vukomanovic candidly shared, “We had to rebuild the team 4 times throughout the season due to injuries because every time we reach the momentum we wanted, we lose one or two key players. You have to change the strategy and all after that as the quality is also affected. It’s a big challenge as a coach.” He acknowledged the factors beyond their control, including injuries and integrating youth players into the squad.

He added, “It’s been 10 years as a coach and this was the hardest ever season for me. There were so many things that are not in our control and with all the injuries and all with the youth players you have to deal with it. We had to deal with that and push these young boys over the limits. Happy with things as we reached many levels this season. We were beating everybody at home and away and disappointed because we are eliminated and relieved as this kind of season has come to an end and it’s a mixed feeling where everybody has to refresh and rebuild for next season,” he concluded.

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