The tactician reflected on an important three points against the Red and Gold.

Ivan Vukomanovic’s Kerala Blasters defeated SC East Bengal 1-0 in the Indian Super League. The Kochi-based side scored their only goal through a header in the 49th minute. Lalthathanga Khawlhring provided the assist through a corner.

Head coach Ivan Vukomanovic met with the media after the game to discuss his players’ performances.

Kerala Blasters 1-0 SC East Bengal Match Highlights

The comeback after a defeat

Kerala Blasters’ defensive record was the best in the league when they played against Jamshedpur FC. However, the Men of Steel put three past them to hand them a shocking defeat. Ivan Vukomanovic sees the East Bengal win as a comeback from a setback.

“It was very important that we achieved those points. I’m very glad that we were capable of doing it. But, after the defeat and after the moment we are in right now, it was very important that we try to perform and have a clean-sheet,” the Serbian tactician quipped.

The story of the match

Kerala and East Bengal played an even game. It was a cagey affair, with the Kerala midfield coming out on top for most of the game. However, after the ice-breaker was scored, the Antonio Perosevic headed East Bengal attack upped the ante and put a lot of pressure on the Blasters.

“I think in the first half, we were the team that was pressing more and who maybe wanted more. In the second half, we wanted to stay strong and start very strong with pressure, which resulted in an early corner after which we scored our goal. After that, we kind of lost the grip and lost control of the midfield. But anyway, we maintained composure and started to focus. We are happy,” Ivan Vukomanovic commented.

Rationale behind substituting Sahal Abdul Samad

Sahal Abdul Samad had an impressive outing for the Blasters. He was aggressive with his pressing and won back the ball in the opposition’s defensive third more than thrice in the first half. With his abilities being a key in the Blasters’ counter-press, Ivan Vukomanovic taking Sahal out of the game in the second half shocked many.

“Well, actually we would like him to play the entire game. The fact that we at one moment want to change winger position and the fact that when we were following all the GPS thing, we can see that he runs a lot and completes kilometres and when we see that he’s at the end of his possibilities, not only him but many other players then we have to make the decision.

“If you saw, we had three goalkeepers on the bench. We had only five players and not one defender on the bench. We didn’t have one full-back on the bench. The only players on the bench were two midfielders and three wingers. When you have that kind of situation, you’ve to puzzle,” Vukomanovic explained.

Bijoy Varghese’s performance

Bijoy Varghese started only his third game of the season. The 21-year-old centre-back has been brought into the starting XI, as the Blasters are missing their players due to the COVID outbreak. And the youngster has impressed his head coach.

“Bijoy is a great person and a good player. Since he started training with us last August, he was coming from the “B” team. He never played on the level of ISL and now completing a couple of games this season showing quality, maturity, great mentality and fighting spirit. He has to work a lot and continue improving in every aspect of his game. That’s why I’m here. I’m very glad to have all of them,” the 44-year-old head coach said.

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