Ivan Vukomanovic: It’s all about passion for the people of Kerala

Ivan Vukomanovic and his team Kerala

In the race for the top of the points table with 16 points from seven matches, Head coach Ivan Vukomanovic and his team Kerala Blasters have taken the league by storm this season.

Organic fandom in football is worth its weight in gold for any club. A set of supporters that continue to back you through the ups and downs helps teams weather the volatility of the sport. Indian football has several diverse and passionate groups of followers, and Kerala Blasters FC and their Manjappada are one of the foremost examples of the same. The Kochi-based outfit has undergone a fascinating journey in the Indian Super League (ISL), but the support their home crowd provides them game after game never deserts the team.

In the race for the top of the points table with 16 points from seven matches, Head coach Ivan Vukomanovic and his team have taken the league by storm this season. Led by the charismatic Adrian Luna, Kerala Blasters have been at the top of their game more often than not. Winning four out of their five home games until now, the Yellow Brigade have optimised the unprecedented atmosphere that the crowd in Kochi creates. His personal record at the bastion is exemplary, having coached the team in 15 games in their home ground and winning 11 and drawing once in those matches.

Whilst it may seem as an impressive feat to a commoner, Vukomanovic understands that giving the game their absolute best is the bare minimum that his team can do to repay the trust laid on them by their supporters.

Kerala Blasters after the win over Odisha FC during Match 25 of the Indian Super League 2023-24 season, played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi on October 27, 2023. Photos : Shibu Preman / Focus Sports /ISL

“Kerala is a special state. It is a place where the moment you step in, you feel like everybody talks about football, everybody breathes football, and football is a part of daily life. It’s all about passion, more than anything else – it’s very important for the people of Kerala, and being part of Kerala Blasters, you have a huge responsibility to respect the logo that you are wearing,” the tactician said in an interaction with the league.

Vukomanovic added, “That’s what I tell the players always. They should be proud, because they are being a part of and representing a huge community. That’s why, we always have an obligation to show a little bit more than our opponents, whether we are playing home or away. Especially when we play at home, we have to show something else, that we are fighting for the logo, and we are fighting for that club, because that’s a part of the identity of Kerala.”

Vukomanovic had coached Kerala Blasters FC to the final of the ISL 2021-22 in his very first season in charge in the league. He has had an impactful stint so far and will be keen to bring home the coveted trophy in the ongoing campaign. However, for the 46-year-old Serbian, this job is more than just meeting the required targets. It’s about influencing the culture of the club in a way that his spell in Kochi is remembered for years to come even when he disassociates with the team.

“I enjoy seeing players becoming better in this job. I enjoy seeing them coming to the training session with a smile. As a coach you have the obligation of passing knowledge, doing the kind of improvements in the club that the players speak of and recall your mark and legacy one day when you are not around the setup anymore. In the Indian Super League, that’s why we try to be positive, lifting the level up, and trying to make our teams and eventually the national team better,” he said.

Kerala Blasters FC fans during Match 25 of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season, played between Kerala Blasters FC and Odisha FC held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi on October 27, 2023. Photos : Shibu Preman / Focus Sports /ISL

Vukomanovic stressed that pushing players into realising their potential is one of his foremost objectives with this team. Giving the example of striker Ishan Pandita, the coach said that he wants to work with these footballers who have a massive upside and play a pivotal role in enabling them to scale greater heights in the future for India at the global stage.

“Ishan has gotten international education. He was abroad. He is one of the few players in the ISL in that position with that profile, who can perform at the highest level with the national team. It’s very important for us as a club to have these players because we like to work with these projects, we like to make them better, make them feel important, knowing that they can achieve important things with us and that they can go on higher levels in the future, especially with the national team,” he signed off.

For Fixtures and Standing and News on the MFA Super League: Click

Also Read: Super sub Victor Rodriguez snatches 3 points for FC Goa against Jamshedpur FC

Also Read: Parel’s Pride: Soccer Saga FC’s inspiring climb in Mumbai’s Football Hierarchy

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