Kerala Blasters FC regained top spot in the Indian super League (ISL) points table on Wednesday after defeating Odisha FC 2-0 at the Tilak Maidan. KBFC boss Ivan Vukomanovic was delighted with his team’s performance but wants his side to remain grounded as he feels “nothing’s done we still have nine more games to go”. Nishu Kumar and Harmanjot Singh Khabra netted for the Yellow Army as they moved to 20 points from 11 games, one point behind second-placed Jamshedpur FC. Vukomanovic’s side is now unbeaten in 10 games.
𝓐 𝓬𝓵𝓪𝓼𝓼 𝓰𝓮𝓼𝓽𝓾𝓻𝓮 from Adrian Luna and @harman_khabra, as they dedicated the @KeralaBlasters win to teammate Jessel Carneiro who picked up a shoulder injury in their previous game! 👏🟡#OFCKBFC #HeroISL #LetsFootball pic.twitter.com/xgkflJPQVp
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) January 13, 2022
Both the goals were scored by full-back’s. Nishu, who started his first game in nearly 12 months after Jessel Carneiro injured his shoulder in the previous game opened the scoring for Blasters in the 28th minute. The left-back received a lob from Adrian Luna just inside the left corner of the penalty box, sidestepped his marker Hendry Antonay to make room for himself and unleashed a right-foot curler that ended at the far corner.
Five minutes before the break, Khabra headed home from Luna’s corner kick to double the lead. Unlike the previous games, both full-backs joined the attack more often or not. Nishu, who is naturally an attack minded player, used his pace and shooting abilities to good effect while going forward.
When asked about the goals scored by full-backs, Vukomanovic said “ it shows the versatility of our team. Let’s say different things that we possess in our team. Players with quality who can be very dangerous from second lines, players that can infiltrate, players that can be dangerous on set pieces. So l think that step by step we are improving in many different ways.”
In the previous games, the midfielder had a bigger role to play as the likes of Luna and Sahal Abdul Samad were causing all sorts of problems to the opposition defense with their inside runs. However, on Wednesday, Vukomanovic added an extra dimension to his team’s game by pushing the full-backs further up the field and it paid off.
The Serbian added “when you are evolving in such a competition and we are starting scoring certain goals, then the opponents will be concentrating on your key players and key moments. Then you have to diversify, you have to try to mix things up, you have to try to find the other solution. So that’s what we saw today. I’m very happy for Nishu Kumar in his first game to score such a beautiful goal, even coming back after so long period onto the pitch because he was suffering after his injury”
Since losing the opening game against ATK Mohun Bagan, Blasters have been unbeaten and have registered 5 wins and 5 assists in the remaining games. When asked about the team’s unbeaten run, Vukomanovic said “ If we speak about the unbeaten run, we are not busy with the statistics because we cannot think in that way, we have to think about building up a good team with many different things like we have seen today and in the previous games. Hoping for the best by the end. We hope that it will continue like that.”
Blasters will next face defending champions Mumbai City FC on sunday.