We don't want big names in our team: Kerala Blasters coach Vukomanovic

Ivan Vukomanovic
Ivan Vukomanovic guided Blasters to the final in the last ISL. File photo: Twitter@ivanvuko19

Kochi: Unlike previous seasons, Kerala Blasters have options aplenty this year when it comes to selecting the playing XI or tweaking the line-up, according to head coach Ivan Vukomanovic.

"Most of the players, including foreign recruits, are under the age of 30 years, and this is a big advantage for the team. The 24-year-old Ivan Kaliuzhnyi is a dangerous player. Though he plays as a defensive midfielder, the Ukrainian is adept at moving the ball from deeper positions into attacking areas and even scoring goals," Vukomanovic, who guided Blasters to the final in the eighth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) said. The 45-year-old Serb opens up about the new signings, expectations from his players and strategies for the upcoming ISL in a chat with Malayala Manorama.

The fans are understandably disappointed to see players like Alvaro Vazquez and Jorge Pereyra Díaz leaving the club. How do you react?

Obviously, they may feel dejected. Both these players did amazingly well for the team. Let me tell you something. Diaz was supposed to sign a contract with Blasters ahead of Season 8, but he chose to move to Club Atletico Platense. Later, he joined Blasters on loan. Moreover, while recruiting players, we have to be mindful of our budget. When they cross the 30-year mark, players would be very careful while making a decision for the future. When they receive multiple offers, they will grab the best one. When I meet Vazquez and Diaz, I will hug them and exchange pleasantries. Let us cheer for them when they come to play in Kochi.

What do you expect from the new recruits?

All the foreign recruits for the new season are proven players. We don't want big names in our team. We want players who have an insatiable hunger for success and those who feel proud to wear the yellow shirt. It is equally important to have quality home-grown players in the side. Overall, we have managed to bring together a compact team with balance in all the departments. Last year, we did not have enough bench strength to deal with the absence of key players in crucial matches. This team has some unpredictable and dangerous players. Kaliuzhnyi is one of them. Remember, when we went for a thorough overhaul ahead of last season, fans were doubtful of the quality of the overseas signings.

Going into the new season, Blasters will have a different squad. Will the team's philosophy and playing style change?

The playing style depends on the individual potential of each player. Last season, we began most of the matches in the 4-4-2 formation. However, we tried out various other formations depending upon the situation created by the opponents. You might have noticed full-backs attacking vigorously while fulfilling the defensive duties and midfielder Sahal (Abdul Samad) playing as a pure striker. 

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