Following the opening day loss to ATK Mohun Bagan, Kerala Blasters have recovered well picking up two draws and a win in their last three games. Ivan Vukomanovic’s team has been led by Adrian Luna on the pitch, who has assisted three of the five goals they have scored so far. Having defeated Odisha FC 2-1 in their previous match, Kerala will be looking forward to continuing their winning form when they take on SC East Bengal on Sunday. As the team sitting at the bottom of the table, East Bengal hasn’t won a single game and will go all out tomorrow at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.
Coach Ivan Vukomanovic and midfielder Puitea spoke to the media ahead of the game against the Red and Gold Brigade. Here’s what they had to say in the pre-match press conference.
Ivan on the advantages of having a player like Luna
“It dates back to the period when we were starting to build the project and we were looking for foreigners who could bring something extra to the team and Luna was one of the options and we are very glad to have him. He also brings a lot of values as a person and it is very good for the group to have someone so humble and polite like him. He also provides his support to the other players to become better and improve so we are very happy to have him in the team.”
Ivan on building the fighting mentality in the team
“In the coaching job, there are many things that you have to evaluate and build in order to improve. You must never give up because there’s ninety minutes of the game to be played. So far, we have seen that it is possible. As a team we need to believe that we can win every game and we can fight till the last minute and when you have that kind of energy and manage to create respect among the players then everybody wants to fight for each other in order to achieve certain things. I certainly believe that the boys have it in them and we want to prove that as well.”
Ivan on his first win of the season
“If you talk about the game against Bagan, we played good football and we wanted to achieve certain things. We wanted to control the game and like I mentioned earlier we wanted to build an atmosphere so that we can get positive results. When you win, it’s a nice feeling, but we want to continue it because I believe there are two types of teams in football- sometimes teams and every time teams. We want to be the team that does good things all the time instead of just some times. The energy shown in the last game was great. We were fighting for the points and this is how it should be in football.”
Plans for the game against East Bengal
“In the case of the previous games against BFC, OFC and Northeast, all the games were different and you never know how they can be started. We always want to start the games focused and concentrated. We have practiced different styles both offensive and defensive and from time to time we need to change these things and explore other styles depending on our opponents. East Bengal is a very good team and they have a good group of players. I think it will be good game for us.”
Update on Albino Gomes’ injury
“When I saw the videos afterwards, he kicked the ball and then he stepped badly on his left leg and felt some issues in his knee. We did not want him to continue and now it will take some days to evaluate the status of the injury and I think on Monday he will take some more tests to see exactly what is the problem with his knee and then we can know how to proceed.”
On missing the services of Albino
“Albino was a very important part of the team and he started in the first four games and now tomorrow we will be missing him in the goal. Gill is a young promising goalkeeper who is working hard and we are 100% behind all of them. We have full confidence in them and there has been no problem so far.”
Ivan on the possibility of a high scoring game
“Hopefully. We are all working very hard and we need to create good situations to score goals. The most beautiful thing about football is when you score goals. We always want to improve and hopefully we can see more goals.”
Ivan on the need for other players to contribute more in terms of goals
“We want wingers like Sahal and Vincy and all the other offensive players to score more goals but you know in football it is not so important who is scoring goals but it is more important to win the games. There will always be someone who will make the pass and someone who will put the ball into the nets. We are not much worried about these things. I want everyone including Puitea (laughs) to be involved but the most important thing is to win.”
Update on Rahul KP’s injury
“He has started his recovery and will not need a surgery so far. He has started his recovery process and we hope to see him back with us. He missed a large part of our pre-season due to obligations with the national team and maybe that injury could have been avoided. The treatment and recovery process is ongoing. We are missing them and hope to have them back soon as they will make the team better.”
Puitea on his experience of playing alongside Luna
“It has been an honor to play alongside someone like Luna and even Alavaro and Jorge because they are always calm with the ball and they will always find creative solutions. Therefore, it is a pleasure not only for me, but for the whole group to play alongside them.”
Kerala Blasters will face SC East Bengal tomorrow at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.
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