Kerala Blasters are up against NorthEast United FC and you have several players from the North East region, about 8 players. So what are your thoughts about that? And how much of a help do you think Thangboi Singto, the assistant coach, be in understanding the opponents ahead of the game?
I think it's special for both the teams and it gives an extra dimension. I'm sure both the players are going to try to do well. Thangboi, in fact, is a very good help for us, because he gives us an insight into certain players and certain elements of the game and what we can expect. So, hopefully, we can take advantage of it.
Without Dimitar Berbatov, what does it make to the style of play? And how important is he, with you having mentioned him as 'a catalyst to bringing quality to the side', so what does that mean to your side, now that he won't be playing?
It's a loss for sure, I think everybody did notice that after he came off after 3 minutes, in Goa. He gives us that quality, that composure. Just like I said we were growing with every game, we were trying to put things in place, better than the game before. So, obviously, the way the game panned out after he left depicts the disappointment with the result, although we have a lot of good things there. What it means is that you have to use the squad likewise. I mean, this is a case of accepting the fact that he's not there, now you need to look at the squad and make sure every player can step up to the play.
The seven minutes against Goa that you talked about just completely changing the game, how much of that is going to be an effect in the future games, because, you know considering that Kerala is yet to win a game, how much is that going to have an effect mentally ahead of the game tomorrow?
It only really affects mentally if you start dwelling on it, you know, keep revisiting it and that doesn't help any of the players. Players know when they've made a mistake and could have done better. You need to address it, accept it and move on. And that's exactly what we've done. I think the players are very keen on their first win. Their first win will get our season going, and that is what we need to focus on, and what we've focused on all week.
What is the status of injuries and what about Hume, is he fit to start tomorrow? Are there any other injuries?
Apart from Berbatov who is definitely out, Iain Hume has resumed training this week and came through it well. Obviously, when you've been out for a while, you lose a little bit of match fitness but he will be a part of the squad. Same for Wes Brown, he's just kept on improving, so we have to make a call on that again. He'll be a part of the squad. And as you know normally, I will always inform the players first, which is normal, but I am happy to see them fit and other than that we have actually no major injuries with anybody.
Considering the football that North East have played, do you think that they are overly dependent on their two forwards, Danilo and Marcinho?
Not only them, they are very good players, they are direct, they can run in behind, they can beat a man. Marcinho can find a pass, he can score a goal, can settle the players up, but also the wingers, the number 9 and number 11, apologies for not being able to name them, but Narzary, number 11, is good at dribbling, putting crosses in, can beat a man as well. Number 9 is very good at running in behind, so, there's more than just those two. So they can pose a threat, like any forwards of any team do, if you're prepared to handle them. So, we have to make sure that we are on our guard and try to minimize the errors and not lose goal scoring opportunities.
Coach, someone touched upon the North East players in the squad earlier, I was just wondering will it be emotional for some of these players to play against their club where they come from?
It might be emotional, the most important thing is that they don't let their game run by their emotions. The key is to still keep the clean sheet and stick to the plans that we have devised and play with your head, basically, and have an emotional attachment to it because of where they come from. But I think the players know that this is a bit of a Derby feeling, they don't wanna lose from each other, they want to do well, so, that gives an extra edge to the game.
Secondly, talking about local players, how important is it to have CK Vineeth back and the energy he brings being a local player?
It's very important, because I thought he did extremely well in the home game against Mumbai FC, that's what we wanna see from CK, a threat running in behind and taking players on, being a goal threat like a few others, he's another one waiting for the first goal to go in and I think that if they eventually open their accounts more goals will come from them.
There's a voting pattern for selecting the best goal of the week, done by the league and it's mostly done by the votes cast by the fans and Sifneos' goal was voted the goal of the week. Would you think that was strange and what would be your appeal? Would you tell them to be more neutral and go for the best goal rather than randomly voting for team support?
You have to respect the views of the fans. Period.
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