Kerala Blasters hope for long term continuity besides top-four goals ahead of Mohun Bagan test

It looks like Blasters have built a squad that has the quality to fight for the top honours but Vukomanovic admitted that the focus was not just on getting into the top four this season.

Published: 19th February 2022 07:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th February 2022 07:53 AM   |  A+A-

Kerala Blasters coach Ivan Vukomanovic (Photo | ISL)

Express News Service

KOCHI: Argentine striker Jorge Pereyra Diaz had trouble articulating his thoughts in English when asked what his experience was playing in the Indian Super League and whether he fancied extending his loan spell with Kerala Blasters beyond this season.

With a little help from the head coach Ivan Vukomanovic, the 31-year-old expressed that he was happy to stay on if the club wanted and continue enjoying what he called was a "different experience".

"If Kerala wants me, I would love to come back and that is a possibility. I am very happy and I can see myself being here for another year. I like to be here and if the clubs can arrange I would be happy to stay," said Diaz prior to their match against ATK Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League.

While the game against the Mariners is a crucial one considering that both teams are fighting for a playoff berth, Blasters head coach stressed the need to plan long term which involved the retention of their core group of players including the foreign players alongside the local players.

It looks like Blasters have built a squad that has the quality to fight for the top honours but Vukomanovic admitted that the focus was just not on getting into the top four this season and planning for each season.

"You start from zero every season if you keep changing the squad and try to build over and over again and you'll never achieve anything. We will do our best to retain most of our players whether it is foreign or Indian players," said Vukomanovic.

The likes of Diaz, Adrian Luna, Alvaro Vazquez and Marko Leskovic have stood out this season and it remains to be seen if the team manages to hold them down.

As Diaz hinted, players have expressed their interest in staying on with the team and it remains to be seen whether the club takes the effort to hold onto them.

"We want to take a professional approach and in the long term it will yield results," added Vukomanovic.
The more immediate focus meanwhile is to consolidate their position in the top four and second-placed Bagan who looked like a rejuvenated outfit under Juan Ferrando is a challenging prospect.

Blasters don't have fond memories of facing Bagan this season as they had slumped to a 4-2 defeat in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

"That defeat (against ATK Mohun Bagan) feels like it happened three years ago because of what we have achieved so far. It happened a long time ago, and since then many things have changed in our camp. We are now at the final line of the race, it is now about how the teams will respond and enter the fight in what mentality because we have good teams fighting for the points to reach the top. I hope on Saturday, we have a good game because now the players are motivated to show that against one very good team," said Vukomanovic.



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