The Ukrainian scored a brace on his debut to lead his side to victory.

Kerala Blasters FC defeated East Bengal FC 3-1 in the Indian Super League 2022-23 season opener at Kochi. Adrian Luna scored the opening goal of the season and the football world witnessed a very emotional celebration as he dedicated the goal to his deceased daughter. Ivan Kaliuzhnyi then showed a magnificent performance in his debut game, coming off the bench to score a brace and lead Ivan Vukomanovic’s side to a victory.

Ivan Vukomanovic met the media for the post-match press conference to discuss his side’s performance. Here’s what the Kerala Blasters coach said:

Bringing on Ivan Kalyuzhnyi as a substitute

Ivan Kaliuzhnyi came off the bench in the 80th minute and doubled Kerala Blasters’ lead two minutes later. He made it three in the 89th minute with a stunning strike. He was named the Hero of the match for his stunning brace.

“We’ve signed some new players with quality and this is something that we didn’t do last year. Ivan Kaliuzhnyi is a technically skillful player who can play in different positions and can master these kinds of games. We know that this game will not be about the first 10 or 15 minutes. In the second half, when we were leading, we felt that the game should end well. I’m proud of my boys because they’ve been working so hard. I’m so grateful.”

Thoughts on the new forwards

Dimitrios Diamantakos and Apostolos Giannou are the new foreign forwards KBFC signed for this season. Both started the season opener against East Bengal. Ivan Vukomanovic said that he is happy with the new forwards as they’ve some quality.

“I’m happy with the new forwards. This kind of atmosphere today was something that many foreign players haven’t experienced in their lives. We are happy with the quality they have. They are the exact profiles we wanted to have. Especially this year, Ivan Kaliuzhnyi, which is something that we didn’t have last year.

“When playing at your home ground we have to push ourselves. I think that all fans are happy. Many of us tonight will not sleep. Because we are so proud to see all these things.”

Thoughts on the defence

The defensive side of the team was not so perfect in today’s game. Ivan says it happened because all are playing in Kochi, in front of a huge crowd for the first time. And he added that the team will take a look at those things and correct it accordingly. 

“More than 90 percent of players have never played in front of this crowd in Kochi. This is the first time they touch the ground in Kochi. They all know that it will not be perfect the first time. Of course, we are happy with the three points. But we will never stop working.”

His advice to players at half-time

According to Ivan Vukomanovic, to win the game the players should keep calm since they’re playing in front of a stadium full of spectators. He believes that the first 15-20 minutes of the game are so important and the players should focus only on the game and try to create chances to score.

“We have to continue managing our game and we have to be capable of controlling our emotions- not responding to referees. Because there is no need. We have to keep calm. We have to keep believing to stay focused,” he said.

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