ISL witnesses a first with Vukomanovic's three-year extension at Kerala Blasters

KBFC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic | Screengrab/Instagram

New Delhi: The Indian Super League (ISL) witnessed a first this week with Ivan Vukomanovic, who helmed Kerala Blasters FC's run into the 2021-22 final, signing a three-year contract extension, the longest ever by any head coach in the history of the event.

Vukomanovic-led Kerala Blasters to the ISL final for the first since 2016, taking over the club who could only achieve a second-bottom finish in the preceding season.

Vukomanovic is set to remain in charge of the club until the end of the 2024-25 season. Previously, the preferred trend in ISL had been rolling one-year extensions, instead of long-term contracts prevalent in developed football markets in the west.

Kerala Blasters, who reached the final this season after a six-year-long wait have had 11 coaches -- 8 permanent and 3 interims -- before Vukomanovic since 2014.

In a bid to bring stability, the club has now opted for a long-term vision. Other major clubs -- ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC -- had already started this trend in Indian football, with both managerial and player recruitment policies.

"I'm happy that we agreed on a three-year deal with Ivan. He adapted seamlessly and is an integral part of the Blasters family. I think it is an important move for our club, and we now have a strong base to continue our work with consistency and achieve more goals," the club's Lithuanian Sporting Director Karolis Skinkys said.

Vukomanovic has been a major proponent of providing more opportunities to youngsters in the interest of Indian football.

"If you see the rule of having at least four developmental players in your squad, it pushes you as a club, as a league, and a football federation to invest more and develop younger players. They are the future of Indian football."


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