Mohun Bagan progressed into their first Durand Cup finals since 2009 after defeating Real Kashmir 3-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday. Salva Chamorro’s thunderbolt gave the Mariners the lead in the first half before a last-minute equalizer from Gnohere Krizo forced extra-time. However, VP Suhair scored a blitzing brace in extra-time to help the hosts move into the finals on Saturday.
Kibu Vicuna was pleased with his team entering the Durand Cup finals. He admitted that the 93rd minute equaliser was hard to deal with but praised his team for reacting well.
“It was very hard (to deal with the equaliser). It was like we lost the match, but it was 1-1. However, I felt we played really well today and were much better than the opponent. We played some good football and had created some very good chances. I feel today even in extra-time we were better and Suhair obviously scored some important goals to win it for us.
“Football is not only about the eleven players who start in the line-up, but also the substitutes. We knew Real Kashmir are a very good team, especially physically, so we needed two players who are able physically also. Both of them gave some great performances with Gonzalez dominating in midfield and Suhair scoring the goals.
“We are going to get the peak physical condition by playing matches. I’m very happy that today we were fitter than the opponent. I knew the physical battle was going to happen. What I think about football anywhere is that upon a bad result, it’s always a physical condition to be blamed. For me, physical condition is one part of the game. I think tonight we were better on every aspect of the game,” he explained.
“We shouldn’t talk about the defence when we’re winning 3-1. We only conceded one goal today! Football is a team game, not about the defenders but about as a whole.”
Vicuna is positive ahead of the final but believes that providing the players time to recover should be a priority.
“We are going to prepare for the match as best as possible. In football, everything is possible. The most important people in the football tournament are the players. So we must take care of the players.
“I don’t understand how in both games, the FIFA rules allow a fourth change in extra-time. I don’t know how they didn’t let us do that. So I think it’s important to implement that rule. But we’re going to prepare for our best for the game against Gokulam. We played four games but had only two days to recover. It’s important that the players have enough time to recover," he further reiterated.
Real Kashmir coach David Robertson experienced his first loss at the Salt Lake Stadium, but wasn’t that disappointed by it. When asked about how difficult this loss is for him, he stated, “Once again, I can’t fault anything with my team. Our legs went in extra-time which is expected for it being pre-season. It’s been difficult in the pre-season."
"I came here expecting to play three games but got one extra game which is good for fitness. But you saw the fight tonight. My concern was that whether the players still had the hunger. But this game proved we have a team of winners. I think as we moved forward the season, we’ll get better.
“These players have a great attitude and are professional football players. It’s just another day for these guys. I was even thinking to myself before the equalizer that I would be praising my team. They played with a heart and desire. I think that’s very important to have in a team. It’s a huge asset for the players to have the hunger and desire”, he added.