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Have to adapt ourselves in order to achieve victories: Kerala Blaster FC’s Ivan Vukomanovic

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was pleased with the way his team executed their game plan, halting Jamshedpur FC’s winning streak with a 1-0 win in the Hero Indian Super League’s (ISL) first leg of semifinal 1 at the PJN Stadium in Margao, Goa on Friday.

Sahal Abdul Samad scored in the 38th minute to hand Kerala the lead and it could have been 2-0 for the club had Adrian Luna’s knuckleball free-kick not cannoned off the woodwork. Kerala’s defense was rock-solid too, withstanding the initial threat from Jamshedpur FC with Marko Leskovic leading from the front.

The two teams will meet again for the second leg of the semi-final 1 on Tuesday, March 15. Ivan Vukomanovic addressed the media after the game.

Here are some excerpts from his press conference:

Do you think this 1-0 lead is enough for the second leg?

Well, it’s only one game when you play competitive football in the knockout phase like we are now facing, it’s about 180 minutes. It’s not only about one game. This victory today gave us an idea, that we should change certain things or repeat certain things in the next game. But it raises many question marks for our next game also because it will be quite similar, it will be physical, it will be a tough fight. We knew before this game, that facing tonight’s opponent, who is the first team in the league, actually who won the title after 20 games, that it will be physical, we face them twice in the competition, we lost and we played a draw. So, we wanted to try something different tonight. As a team, we are a young team, we are coming from far away. We know that in every game we have to approach it differently. We have to adapt ourselves in order to achieve victories. So tonight, I must say that this is only the first half, this is only one game. So, we have to be ready for the second leg. And then hopefully we achieve the good result again and then try to qualify if it’s possible.

What’s goes into preparations for such knockout games?

Yeah, after the new year there was no time to prepare and even for the training. Even with the COVID outbreak, with days of isolation, we reduced our program and training process to a minimum. Even now, tomorrow will be recovering, a refreshing day and then one-day training preparation for the game. So, it will be the same I think we will see quite a similar game. It will be in a different environment because we will be playing in Tilak Stadium. Hopefully, that will see a good game because sometimes in this period, at end of the season, everybody’s emotionally and physically exhausted. We cannot see nice football, there are many ugly things. And you know, this is kind of the way that we are going to finish this season. So again, we’re going to try to prepare our best and then try to play a good game.

Do you think Jamshedpur FC was complacent today?

When you end up the period of 20 games. And then after winning the trophy, there is this emotional kind of relief and emptiness from all sides. Especially from our opponent who was going through a good period with having many victories and of course, it’s hard to be that kind of team especially when it goes about physical football. Now we are in positive energy with momentum on our side we will have to try to do our best to prepare for the next game and then go into the fight. So, I hope that it will be again the good fight between us and we have to be ready for that.

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