A two-goal win for Jamshedpur FC will take them to the finals for the first time.

After a narrow victory in the first-leg of the playoff, Kerala Blasters have an edge over Jamshedpur before tomorrow’s clash. Ivan Vukomanovic and his side will be looking forward to extend their aggregate and make their way into the finale, after a wait of four seasons. Meanwhile, it was a tough task for Owen Coyle to digest the loss at the hands of the Blasters. Jamshedpur FC will be eager to turn the tables in their favour and enter the finals of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 for the first time since the inception of the club.

Prior to the fixture, head coaches Ivan Vukomanovic and Owen Coyle addressed the media and shared their thoughts.

Kerala Blasters Head Coach Ivan Vukomanovic

Trying to preserve lead?

Ivan Vukomanovic: We don’t even look at the last game. The 1-0 doesn’t give us any guarantee or security for tomorrow’s game.

Comments of Jamshedpur FC coach on Kerala Blasters celebrations after first leg

Ivan Vukomanovic: We celebrate every game like that because every game for us is a fight. We are seeing our spot in the playoffs as the underdogs. We’re not the favourites. When we win against a team that’s seven victories in a row and has won the league, it’s a good achievement. Of course, everybody’s got opinions and I respect their opinions. We can’t plan or control the opponents’ side. We’ve to do what we can do.

What I find really is odd and I’m really sorry that the referees decide the outcomes of the game. It’s really bad for football or Indian football in total. With so many mistakes, the referees decide the winners and they’re not brave enough to make decisions in certain moments to give yellow and red cards. That’s what makes you a little bit frustrated and gives you a bad feeling.

Message to players

Ivan Vukomanovic: Go out and win. As a football player, you find yourself privileged to be playing these kinds of games, with such high stakes. When you start playing football, you dream about these games. You work so hard to achieve these kinds of things.

Jamshedpur FC Head Coach Owen Coyle

Approach to the second leg after defeat in the first leg

Owen Coyle: We won’t be changing our approach because everyone that watches us play knows that we approach every game with the winning mentality and we have to win this match if we wish to progress to the finals which will require us to score goals.

So, in terms of the approach, similar to our final game that we played against ATK Mohun Bagan and we knew that even a small margin loss or win would end in us becoming the champions and the best team in the country but we still approached the game with the intention of winning.

Our approach will not change and we’re very respectful of our opponents who are a wonderful team but equally we know that if we’re at our best then it’s a game that we can win. We’re looking forward to the game as it is an opportunity for a quick turnaround from the first game in which we were hurt as the loss broke down our winning streak which earned us the league shield making us the best team in the country. Now we want to make it to the finals to do that. As I’ve said we have to play very well to overcome the 1-0 deficit.

Strategy to overcome multiple injuries team has suffered

Owen Coyle: Ultimately, we can only play the players that are fit and available to play the game, particularly the challenge we have with Len missing the game because there’s another wide player coming in the back with Boris, Komal and Farukh missing from the squad. So, we’re decimated in the wide areas and everybody knows we love to play wide with our wingers which makes us an exciting team to watch as we get the wingers forward, taking full-backs on and being exciting.

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So, ultimately this strategy will be tough as Boris will mostly won’t make it to the starting XI. Len is a huge doubt and I’d be surprised if he’s fit to play the game. So we have to look at the problem we have and find a solution but this won’t change anything in terms of approaching the game to win it.

We will pick a very positively attack-minded team and we need to concentrate on the ones we do have available to play. So, it’s a blow to have those players missing but that’s an aspect of football. Sometimes there might be players missing due to injuries, suspensions and other different things but we have to carry forward with everything we’ve got with a smile on our faces to go and win a really tough game.

Thoughts on Kerala Blasters coach Ivan Vukomanovic having a good record in crucial game

Owen Coyle: Well I think it’s a brilliant record but as these things go, people think a lot about what happened 5 or 10 years ago or even last year when teams competed against each other but I assure you that what happened in our previous game counts for nothing.

It’s on the given night of the match that if your players are at their very best and if we are the best, then we can win the game against a very good Kerala side and they’ll feel the same way that we did.

So what happened before counts for nothing as it will be two very positive attack-minded teams going all out against each other to win the game. Kerala Blasters know they have the comfort of drawing the game and progressing to the finals but for us, there’s only one way and that is to win the game. Our mindset and focus will be on to win the game which is what we’ll try to do tomorrow.

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