INDIAN FOOTBALL

Ivan Vukomanovic says one ATKMB player should have received a second yellow card

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The Tuskers were taken aback by quickness of ATKMB at the counter.

Kerala Blasters were defeated 1-2 by hosts ATK Mohun Bagan on Saturday at the Salt Lake Stadium in ISL 2022/23. Despite a promising start, the Kerala team began to lose its way following McHugh’s equalizer of ATKMB. Rahul KP was sent off after a flurry of unnecessary tackles and challenges, making the game 10 times more difficult for his team. McHugh’s superb shot shortly after put an odd last nail in the coffin. After the Mariners’ victory, Kerala Blasters head coach Ivan Vukomanovic addressed the media in a post-match news conference.

Was the defeat caused by a striker who did not play today?

Kerala used two forwards, and Diamantakos was substituted after Rahul KP was sent off to provide defensive solidity. They did, however, miss Luna in the position of the false-nine at times. When questioned whether their missing the Uruguayan was the reason for the defeat, Ivan Vukomanovic replied:

“No, the main reason was the second yellow card. I think that we were good in the game and we managed it in the correct way. We had control of the game and then came the moment of the second yellow. When you’re one man down, in the first couple of minutes you’re disbalanced. That is the time we conceded the second goal. I think that was what made the difference today and I actually think we had a good game today. We had everything we wanted but when you play these kinds of games, it’s all about one small detail. 

If there are two good teams playing each other, you will not see 150 chances. That’s not it, you know? Because two good teams, well organised, and prepared, even with individual mistakes will be fighting for every ball. You know, just like I said, you won’t get 150 chances and score 17 goals. In this kind of a game, and all the games later in the playoffs will be the same. A small detail will be crucial in these fixtures and that exact detail made the difference tonight. It was the reaction and it happens during a game. That was it. Well, of course, we’re sorry about the loss. We wanted to get a positive result but that was not the case.” 

Did the loss have an impact on the team’s morale?

The Blasters lost their previous encounter against Bengaluru FC and now face ATKMB. While it may be discouraging to see such a drop in form so close to the playoffs, Ivan Vukomanovic is unconcerned. He talked about having their heads held high and working hard as he explained:

“No not at all; we don’t care. We prepare for the playoffs by thinking that it is the best and most important like we did last season. Nobody expected us to get to the playoffs and this year it’s the same. There are specific ways in which we prepare ourselves, train and do other things. Of course, you want to finish the season in the highest possible place. There are many good teams fighting for it so yeah, that’s football.

So later on when we finish, say, the regular part of the season we prepare one week for the playoffs. Whether you play home or away it’s all about a tough game with strong opponents that boils down to one small detail. So we get ready for that and it will not work on us. Whether we win or lose we take the 24 hours to sleep on and switch off that button in our head and we continue. Then we analyse the teams and that’s about it.”

In terms of whether ATK Mohun Bagan had more opportunities than the KBFC team?

Kerala Blasters had ten shots, whereas the ATKMB had two more in terms of both shots and shots on target. Juan Ferrando’s team looked deadly on the counter, and the Tuskers can only blame Sister Fate for all of their squandered opportunities. Ivan Vukomanovic commended the Bengal team but also gave his opinion on why and how they had more opportunities, concluding-

Yeah, of course, it’s football. I think that everybody underestimates ATK (Mohun Bagan). They’re a great team and for me one of the best teams in the league. So they have good players and enjoy a lot of qualities. They can create chances whenever they want because they have many national team players and a good bunch of forwards. All these things matter when you face these teams. Especially away, as according to me it is never easy to play. Tonight we played a good game for ourselves.

We managed things,  kept possession, and scored a really nice goal in the beginning. For me as a coach, I’m really pleased because these are the kind of things we practise in the training sessions. Later on, we conceded the second goal because of an individual mistake. I always say that you cannot afford these things at such a level. All of it went down to the smallest detail possible; one individual mistake, the second yellow.

Even before that, there was a situation in front of our bench where maybe a player of ATKMB should’ve gotten a second yellow card. That didn’t happen so what I’m trying to say is that these things occur in football. Of course, we were on the receiving end but we are not worried. We have to continue and we have one more game at home. ”

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