Kerala Blasters have three games left to book their place in the play-offs.

Despite a spirited display against the table toppers, Kerala Blasters fell short of firepower as Hyderabad FC became the first team in ISL 2021-22 to reach the semi-finals. Golden boot contender Bartholomew Ogbeche gave HFC the lead before teammate Javier Siverio doubled the lead late in the match. Kerala’s Vincy Barretto pulled one back in injury time, but it was too little too late for Ivan Vukomanovic and his men.

Let’s see what KBFC Head Coach had to say in the post-match press conference:

Thoughts on the game

A win on the night would have given three crucial points to Kerala’s bid for a top four place, but Hyderabad FC had other plans. “I think we played a good game, despite a group of players missing. But I won’t use that an excuse. Today we arrived to the pitch with some youngsters and wanted to give them some time as well. I am happy for Rahul (Kannoly) who got his first minutes since November 19,” Ivan Vukomanovic commented on the result.

“We started the game with some difficulties but got ourselves back into it. After conceding the first goal, we got the grip back and got control of the match. We created some chances we couldn’t score, but you must convert them when you face such an opponent. At the end we scored a goal but that wasn’t enough for all the points. We need to get back as we play again in three days,” the coach added.

On trying new combinations with players

Injury-stricken Kerala Blasters was left without some players, which led the Serbian to make some tweaks to his lineup. “For example if you see the movements of young Sanjeev Stalin, Chencho Gyeltshen, or Ayush Adhikari, they were some of the things we were working on. We want to improve our playing style and I am happy today. Not many teams can create chances against a team like Hyderabad, but we did so. If we scored them, the result could have been the opposite or entirely different,” the 44-year-old said.

Importance of the last few games of the league

The fight for the top four is bound to go right till the end of the season, as men in yellow play one of the final games of the season against FC Goa. KBFC Head Coach Ivan Vukomanovic commented on the importance of these last few fixtures, or the lack thereof. “First of all, I don’t think the ISL fixtures are correct. There are teams who have played 18 games while some have played 16 games.

“When you are approaching the end of the season, some teams know their destiny and they are in a certain state of mind, while others are fighting. For us, it’s just another football game. The boys are aware of it, and we will try to get the maximum out of it,” the coach said.

Chatting with Manolo Marquez at the end of the match

Even after losing, Ivan Vukomanovic remembered the value of sportsmanship. “Coach Manolo Marquez is a gentleman and a very good coach. He proved it last season and has done it this time too. Hyderabad has performed at the highest level so far. I congratulated them on the achievement and wished them all the best.

“As a sportsman, you have to shake your opponent’s hand and move on. That’s how I have been educated and want to continue like that,” the coach signed off.

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