Kerala Blasters are set to take on FC Goa on the 6th of March, their last match of the league stages. A win or a draw will seal the deal for the Blasters and let them reserve their spot in the top four of the league. And with that, the club will be taking part in the playoffs of the Indian Super League after a wait of six long years. On the other hand, Blasters could lose the spot if they lose this match, provided Mumbai City FC win their final match of the league against Hyderabad FC.
Ivan Vukomanović and Sahal Abdul Samad attended the press ahead of their next match, and the following are the excerpts from the same.
Ivan Vukomanović said, “I think we’ll have a different game tomorrow. From our side, we have to fight for our points. So, the approach for the points will be the same. This is how we want to end with our league stages.”
Kerala Blasters need to secure at least a point to secure their spot for the playoffs, and Álvaro Vázquez and Jorge Pereyra Díaz have accumulated a total of three yellow cards. Taking this into consideration, regarding team selection of Kerala Blasters, Vukomanović said, “We’ll see today at the training session, to decide the players for tomorrow’s game. Of course, we are thinking in a different way about our encounter tomorrow, but we want to play with the strongest team. We have the youngest squad in terms of average age, and they all have fresh legs. They can play every three days, no problem. We haven’t let injuries affect our performances till now.
“We will not think of tomorrow’s game as a game where we need only one point. No! We want to go for all the three points. As a coach, and as a former player, I don’t like to settle for less. When you have that mindset, you will not regret about anything.
“I would like to say that I’m really happy. I’m really happy to have chosen this adventure (with Kerala Blasters). Since we started cooperating and working together, we have been on the right path. We, as the technical staff, can see the improvements in every possible aspect. But this is just the beginning. Seeing that the league is short in India, there will be big expectations all the time. But it is impossible in football to bring about changes in such a short time. If you’re aiming for big achievements, of course, you will need time to build up all of those. What you see now is the product of the process these boys initiated, and I believe they can improve even more. The longer we stay together and have the same organisation, the better the results will be,” said Ivan Vukomanović.
Jeakson Singh and Nishu Kumar haven’t yet recovered from their respective injuries, though Nishu Kumar will attend today’s training session, said Ivan Vukomanović.
To some of the questions to Sahal Abdul Samad, he said, “Each coach have a different philosophy, they’ll have a different plan for you. So in whichever position the coach puts me in, I’m ready to adapt to that and play there.
“As a player, I have looked to improve my goal-scoring ability. Under coach Ivan, every training session has had a finishing bout. That has been extremely helpful. Although, as a player, I have to improve on a lot more aspects. No one will ever be a complete player, so I’m working hard to improve.
“Having a versatile squad, being included in this healthy competition inside our camp, that is a great advantage to me and any player at all. All the more, it will be more difficult for the coach to select his best XI as well. From a player’s perspective, it’ll always be a plus point. And from the team’s perspective, it is good because we will have options in the event of an unfortunate injury.”
“Luna has a lot more freedom on the pitch, in regards to defensive duties. Even I have my own duties. And under the guidance of coach Ivan, I think I’m moving forward in the right direction. Wherever I’m playing, whatever I’m doing, I’m doing for the team. So, I’m happy with the team and my performance,” said Sahal Abdul Samad.
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