Ivan Vukomanovic – We need to find the correct balance between attack and defense

Ivan Vukomanovic

Despite a disappointing start to their ISL campaign, Kerala Blasters have bounced back well, earning two points from their last two matches. Ivan Vukomanovic’s side drew their games against Northeast United FC and Bengaluru FC, and will play Odisha FC next. The Juggernauts have had a stellar start to their ISL campaign, winning both games comprehensively and scoring nine goals in the process. A tough challenge awaits Kerala on Sunday as they attempt to climb up the league table. The following is what Ivan Vukomanovic and Jessel Carneiro had to say ahead of the match.

Ivan Vukomanovic

Ivan Vukomanovic on defending against set-pieces

“If you look at the last three games, I don’t remember us conceding from set-pieces. So we will have to maintain the same focus and concentration while defending set-pieces as we did in the last three games and hopefully it will stay like that. We need to concentrate and focus on every aspect of the game because every team, looking at statistics from last season and this season as well have conceded goals from set-pieces and it has not happened with us yet, so we will like to keep it like that and focus on the positives.”

Ivan Vukomanovic on balancing the attack and defense

“There is a thing in Indian Football, that is when you want to play attacking football and press high but then you concede some goals, then everyone starts speaking about how we are not defensively good and if we defend well, then how we are not creating any chances and scoring goals. This is football and we need to find the correct balance between attack and defense. We need to create chances as well as defend well. We want our team to work hard and become better at many things.”

Ivan on using Chencho Gyeltshen as a super-sub

“No, not at all because all the foreigners have the quality to be in the starting eleven. But the rule does not allow it. All of them are very good and the coaching staff has a nice problem finding the correct formula. I am really happy with all of them and Chencho has shown a lot of quality in the training sessions. I like them and want them together on the pitch but we cannot so this is what we have to do now.”

“I am very happy with his performances so far and he is a very good player, good on the ball and decision making. But as I said, we can select only four players, and hopefully, we will get to see Chencho more in the coming games.”

Injury updates ahead of tomorrow’s game

“Seityasen had a small injury issue in one of the training sessions not a long time ago and therefore the staff is working to prevent and anticipate such things because in the short ISL season we cannot have any stupid decision or stupid moment ruling a player out. With Seitya we are very careful and he came back to training and did a couple of training sessions. He is available for the game and everyone else as well except Rahul KP.”

Jessel on his and the team’s performance so far

I am trying my best to adapt to the way that the coach wants me to play and the team is, I would say, doing very well. We are adapting to whatever the case is and how the coach wants us to play on the pitch. We work on ourselves every day so that we can go and win the matches.

Ivan Vukomanovic on set-piece threat from Odisha

“Apart from set-pieces, there are many other aspects as well as we have played against them in friendlies and we know tomorrow’s opponents well. They are a very good team with many quality players and we are prepared to face those things. It is not the only thing that we are going to prepare for but also the other aspects as well and we are preparing our best for every game no matter who the opposition is.”

Ivan Vukomanovic

Ivan’s plan for youngsters and rotation

“Speaking about the goalkeeping position, I would rather give that decision to the goalkeeping coach because he is the guy who knows the goalkeepers and works with them and he makes those decisions. We are glad to have so many talented youngsters on the team who have the potential to grow and become an important part of KBFC. There are many of them like Ayush and Ruivah who are working hard and trying to find their way in and our goal is to give them proper game time as the tournament progresses.”

Jessel on being more offensive in the last few games

“Yes, I am enjoying it very well. If I get a chance to attack, I will not hesitate to do so. I like to play like that and the coach knows that as well and he gives me the freedom to go out.”

Ivan adds, “He can do whatever he wants on the pitch(laughs)

Ivan Vukomanovic on Nishu’s return

“We are very happy to have Nishu back with us after such a long time due to the injury. He is back with the team and is building up his fitness levels. It is now a period to improve and get better every day. We are glad to have him as he can play in different positions and there are others like him as well like Stalin. They can play in different positions like a wing-back as well as a winger, so there is no such issue.”

“Nishu is starting as a winger because as an offensive player you will not have to cover the entire flank and so you can gradually improve your game and take increased responsibility. He is a quality player, has played with the national team and lots of games in the ISL as well. It is great to have such a player and we need to now build his confidence level so that he can become an important part of the team. We can see him in different positions in the next few games.”

Ivan Vukomanovic on Albino’s performances so far

“Yes, not only him but we are satisfied with the performances of all the goalkeepers in the squad. They have improved a lot since we started and as I said, it is the goalkeeping coach who works with them and knows them a lot better.”

Ivan on team selection and different combinations

“In the first game, we were not in the condition to have two foreign center-backs and we played attacking football and scored two good goals as well. There were decisions of the referee and mistakes giving out penalties but that happens in the game and I don’t want to return to that conversation. Against Northeast, we should have scored and won the game because we created a lot of chances and were better on the pitch. But we lost points because we were not efficient in the final third.”

“Against BFC, we needed to take into consideration the players’ fatigue and all because we were playing our third game in nine days and the opposition is a very strong one. So we had to change our approach and choose a different combination. We had our moments in the last game and looking at statistics we saw more of the ball in the final third than they did but we couldn’t finish our chances and it hurt us.”

“We need to explore the spaces available better. We had our moments to score. The coaching staff needs to assess everything including the player’s fitness and the opponent we are facing and deal with all these things.”

Kerala Blasters will face Odisha FC on 5th December at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Goa.

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