It’s going to be a strange atmosphere: Kerala Blasters coach Kibu Vicuna    

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Newly-appointed Kerala Blasters head coach Kibu Vicuna.

Kolkata: Kibu Vicuna is a hit in his debut in India. Having started his managerial passion at the age of 16 and managed a number of clubs in Spain and Poland, Kibu was an unknown entity when he landed in Mohun Bagan in 2019 from Polish club Wisła Płock. The 48-year-old’s delight came when the Green and Maroon brigade defeated Aizawl FC at the Kalyani Stadium to be crowned champions for the second time in five years.

A good friend of former Spain and Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui, Kibu has coached players like Raul Garcia and Nacho Monreal during their teens and even received a congratulatory message from current Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta after the I-League victory. On to a new adventure with Kerala Blasters, Sportslight Media caught up with the gaffer in an exclusive interaction about his goals, challenges and lot more. Excerpts..

Kibu Vicuna was an instant hit in his debut season in India guiding Mohun Bagan to I-League title. (Picture courtesy: Kerala Blasters)

Congratulations on being champions on your debut season with Mohun Bagan and also in India. How tough was the challenge?

Thank you very much, the challenge was very tough because the club didn’t win the trophy the last five seasons as well, and the team was completely new team so we start from zero. It was very tough challenge, but also very interesting and I…we are very happy. We are very happy not only because we won, but also because the style we won the championship.

Being an I-League winning coach and now with Kerala Blasters in ISL, do you think expectations have just got higher? 

Of course, the expectations and the pressure are very high, but we are in Kerala blasters. However, I don’t get teams to get results. In every club, you can find pressure. Of course in Kerala Blasters, the last seasons were not very good in terms of results but the team played good football. So we are going to get good results this time and play in goodwill as well.

How is Kerala Blasters shaping up this time?

These moments are hard (due to COVID-19) because it is difficult to get in good form as the last match the players played was in February end and beginning of March. We are going to start training in October. Meanwhile, we are trying to help the players with the physical activities with some drills to do inside or outside their houses and also trying to have some meetings with them in terms of building the group and also start talking about tactical things.

Kibu Vicuna believes that it will difficult when the game resumes post COVID-19. (Picture courtesy: Kerala Blasters)

Don’t you think parting ways with Sandesh Jhingan is a mistake?  

No. In the club, the coaching staff, the players, we are disappointed because Sandesh Jhingan has left. In football sometimes this happens, this kind of thing. We wish him the best, and at the same time, we are working to create a good team and of course a good friendship line.

Finally, what do you think Indian football will look like post-COVID-19?  

It is going to bit strange but I hope the level of football and the level of the matches are going to be good. Every season Indian Super League has been more competitive. And we have to train hard in order to create a competitive team, to fight against all the teams. It is going to be strange because in games they are going to be in closed doors, so it’s going to be strange, but you have to handle the situations. You have to manage with this issue and I believe all the supporters of the Kerala Blasters will be happy with our performance.

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