Kerala Blasters are set to take the pitch on the 30th of January after a long gap of 17 days, and the team who were in their dream form will be locking their horns with an in-form Bengaluru FC, who are undefeated in their last seven games. Interestingly, whilst both teams have a lot to look forward to, the Blasters may not be fully equipped to take on the upcoming match. Coach Ivan Vukomanović and defender Harmanjot Khabra addressed the press prior to the game, and here’s what the coach and the player had to say.
“I joined only two days back to the training camp. While it is certain that there were some unexpected, unavoidable issues inside the camp, we have to go along with it. As players, we will try to be professionals. We have a match tomorrow, and we will give our 100 per cent. That’s it!”, said Khabra.
Kerala Blasters started training as a near group and with coach Ivan’s presence again from the 28th of January. Vukomanović asserted that not all players have recovered from the COVID virus in the Blasters’ camp and that the players taking the pitch tomorrow may be prone to injuries and other respiratory issues.
“If we are to play a Kabaddi game tomorrow, we might have enough players – seven or eight, maybe a maximum of ten players. We don’t know about the game of football. We will try and use everybody we can. The show must go on. We will give our 100 per cent, but we don’t know if it will look like a game of football. We may even have to put all the available goalkeepers on the bench to have enough players for tomorrow’s game.
“Despite knowing that our rivals from the last game had some COVID positive cases, we were told to play the game. And the cases started to shoot up in our camp from the next day. The only thing we care about now is the health of all of our members. We were promised a secure bubble, but it was not the case. However, we understand it is not easy to organise something like this and have everything under control. But we hope an outbreak like this doesn’t happen again. We have to attend the training session today and check who all are ready to take the pitch tomorrow.”, said Vukomanović.
Vukomanović also claimed that the team hasn’t yet prepared for tomorrow’s game and that it is uncertain if the Blasters will take the pitch. He said that the players still have to go to the hospitals for medical examinations due to some respiratory issues. He said,
“Certain players started training only yesterday, and some of them will join us only today. We don’t care about tomorrow’s game, really. We will take on from a professional side and take the pitch. We still have people who are positive in our camp; we don’t know how it will end up tomorrow. We are not going to push our players to work harder than they can, we don’t want any gamble, and we may not possibly see a lot of players who were a part of the last game in tomorrow’s game. Even though the bubble seems to have broken, we’re still sitting inside it.
“The league is only five to six weeks away from getting over. And now with this gap we’ve had, and not having everyone fit at the moment, in case one of the players gets injured, the league is over for him. Any minor muscle injury, you’re out for six weeks. We have to take multiple tests daily, it’s hectic, but we’re used to it. Moreover, I’m sure a lot of players from several other clubs would also be wanting the league to get over soon and go back home.”
The Kerala Blasters gaffer Ivan Vukomanović expressed his respect for Bengaluru FC, he said, “I think they are a very good side. They deserve to be in the top four. And I think by the end of the season, they will be there. They have some excellent players – national team players. They’re a good team, and it will be challenging for us. But due to the circumstances we’re in, we don’t care about tomorrow’s game. I’m sure, at the moment, not one team would be having their full squad with them.”
Vukomanović wanted to express his love and gratitude towards the fans, and he said, “The love and support that we have received from the fans during this time of isolation has been enormous. We have to let them know that we love them. Hopefully, we’ll all see you soon and play in front of you in Kochi with a full stadium.”
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