The Indian Super League is into the final stretch of matches, and the league table is, as it stands, more intriguing than ever. Kerala Blasters FC will be taking on the defending champions Mumbai City FC in a do-or-die match tomorrow. Coach Ivan Vukomanović and winger Rahul KP attended the press ahead of the encounter, and the following are the excerpts from the same.
On coping with the pressures ahead of tomorrow’s game, Ivan Vukomanović said, “Tomorrow, it doesn’t really matter if you are a senior player or a young player; we have all worked really hard to be in the position that we’re at now. It will be a nice experience and a nice opportunity to throw ourselves at tomorrow’s game. It’s going to be a good game against a good opponent. As a footballer, this is everything that you wish for – playing against good teams and trying to achieve something nice. That’s the beauty of football. The boys will be ready to show their strengths on the pitch.”
Ivan Vukomanović reiterated that staying organised will remain a critical element in their last two games. Furthermore, he said that the availability of Nishu Kumar and Jeakson Singh is yet to be determined.
Álvaro Vázquez, Jorge Pereyra Díaz and Lalthathanga Khawlhring (Puitea) each have three yellow cards to their name at the moment. Losing out on any one of the three could turn out to be extraordinarily harmful and cataclysmic for the Yellow Army. On this note, Ivan Vukomanović said, “Well, they’re all grown-up players. They know the kind of responsibility they carry while going out on the pitch and playing these kinds of games. We even talk about it before the game. But you never know; during a football game, you will be involved in many duels and tackles, and with some ‘different’, I’d say, decisions of the referees, it is possible that with all the adrenaline involved, you might get a yellow card. That is all a part of football.
“These three players are on the verge, so hope that they don’t incur any yellow cards tomorrow. This year, we have never been in favour of the referees’ decisions. We cannot count on those things. The players have to be 100 per cent ready, careful, concentrated and not lose their temper against the referees.”
Mumbai City FC have scored a total of 34 goals in this season, of which a majority of the goals have come from the first half of the match. Kerala Blasters haven’t won a single game this season wherein they conceded in the first half of the game. On this note, Ivan Vukomanović said, “Well, these are the statistics showing how certain teams perform in the first and the second half. Of course, we face a good opponent tomorrow, so we have to be concentrated. But all games have been tough for us; not one game has been easy. So, both teams know that we’ll be facing a good team with good organisation and good scoring potential. It will be a physical game.
“When we see the statistics, it can give us some information. But I think that tomorrow we’ll see a completely different approach, different from any other game that has happened till now. And at the end, it is about the character and the mentality – how you will attack and how you will approach the game. Speaking tactically, certain decisions at certain moments of the game will make the difference tomorrow. We have to put aside all the statistics until now because it will be a fight for points.”
To some of the questions for Rahul, he said, “As a local player and as a part of the team, it is really important for us to qualify for the semi-finals, and what I have been doing is controlling what I can; injuries are not under my control. Many thanks to all the members involved in my recovery, the club, the coaching staff; they really took care of me and showed interest in my recovery, which gave me a sense that the club needs me back. At the moment, what is important is tomorrow’s game, and we’re focused on that.”
Follow our website for the latest updates on Indian Football!