The 44-year-old also opened up on the refereeing decisions during the game.

On Sunday, Kerala Blasters held SC East Bengal to a 1-1 draw in Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22. The Red & Gold Brigade took the lead through Tomislav Mrcela in the 37th minute and just seven minutes later, Alvaro Vazquez equalized for Ivan Vukomanovic and Co.

One of the major talking points from the match was the standard of the refereeing. It was not up to the mark and KBFC suffered on two different occasions as a result of it. Their early goal was chalked off after it was initially given and Jorge Pereyra Diaz’s strike in the second half was ruled out due to a questionable foul.

Vukomanovic, the head coach of the Yellow Army, spoke about it in the post-match press conference. “Like it did today, sometimes they (the refereeing decisions) influence the game in both good and not-so-good ways. Today, we were not happy about it, of course – because we scored a nice, good goal at the right time and gained a good lead. The game could’ve been different afterwards (had the goal stood),” he said.

The 44-year-old further added, “However, at the same time, this is part of football and we have to deal with these things. We have to keep our heads down and stay positive and focused. On that note, I am happy with how my players responded after the final decision and even after we conceded first from a throw-in. They showed good character.”

On SC East Bengal and the contest against them

“Just like we expected, SC East Bengal came in another shape and with a different idea in mind. Regardless, we wanted to dominate and to control the game right from the first minute. We knew that playing in their half and pressing high will give them the opportunities to attack on the counter quickly and cause danger,” Ivan Vukomanovic said.

“I am happy with how we worked after conceding the goal. We pushed hard to score, and later pushed more in the second half. We were the more dominant side in the second half. Sure, there were counter-attacks for us to deal with, but I think that we also had a few good moments in the second half.

“That said, I actually wanted to get all three points from the match tonight, because I think we were the better team. But no, we have to stay positive. Similarly, the people who influence these matches – the referees – must also improve. They’re also human and sometimes they make mistakes, which is why we’re here to help,” the Serbian-Belgian went on.

On the substitutions

After Enes Sipovic was substituted late in the first half, Kerala Blasters fielded just three foreigners for the rest of the half. When asked about it, Ivan Vukomanovic said, “It was a difficult set of decisions. Sipovic had to be replaced in the first half because of an injury.

“We brought in Chencho during the second half, knowing that he could influence the game as SCEB’s right-back was already on a yellow card,” he added.

On signing Albino Gomes’ replacement

KBFC’s No.1 shot-stopper Albino Gomes is set to remain on the sidelines for at least few weeks, following the injury that he sustained during the clash against Odisha FC. Vukomanovic said that the club are yet to make a final decision on whether or not they need to sign a replacement. “In the upcoming days, we will sit down with our goalkeeping coach and the management regarding this. Meanwhile, Albino is awaiting further assessment of his injury. We’ll finalize something in the days to come,” he explained.

On the upcoming match-up against Mumbai City

Up next, Kerala Blasters face table-toppers Mumbai City who have little to no problems in scoring goals and winning matches. However, Ivan Vukomanovic felt that all the matches in ISL are equally tough for him and his team.

“We have to be honest and admit that every game will be hard. So, we will prepare for our next game, just like how we do for every other game. Every opponent is different and hence we just want to think about ourselves. We want to try and be a good team – a team that is tough to beat,” he signed off.

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