The future of the Spaniard is up in the air even though he has won a historic I-League title with Mohun Bagan.
Kibu Vicuna is in seventh heaven after becoming the first foreign head coach to win won an I-League title for Mohun Bagan, that too in splendid fashion. Even with four games to go in an I-League campaign, the Mariners are already champions.
Vicuna, who won his first-ever title as a manager with Bagan, has been selflessly giving all the credit to his players even though his blueprint made it all possible. The Mariners tactician recently spoke to The Telegraph about his journey at the club.
He said to the Telegraph, “From the very beginning, I was very comfortable here. Maybe the weather was different, then the monsoon came. The culture and the style of football is different, but I could feel the charm of the city from my early days.”
He also spoke about how he prioritized mental toughness in building a team capable of winning the title. Vicuna explained, “I always tried to build a team. It was not easy in the beginning, but together we achieved our goal. I give everybody equal importance. I tried to keep everybody happy, as it is in a family. I tried to form a mentally strong team. In difficult situations, mental toughness matters and we have shown that.”
The Mariners obviously had a very shaky start to the season, being unable to win their first two, but then embarked on a remarkable 14-match unbeaten streak which got them the I-League prize.
But, the Spaniard believes they played well even in their 2-4 loss to Churchill Brothers before finding their rhythm. He explained, “We didn’t win the first two matches, but we played well. Yes, we lost our second game against Churchill Brothers 2-4 at home, but it was one of our best games in the league. At the same time, you have to remember we scored a goal after playing 23 passes against the same opponents in the reverse fixture.
“We beat them 3-0 at their den. One of the most satisfying things for me is the fact that we beat all the teams in the league. We have scored goals from 2-3 passes as well. It proves we played according to the situation, which is most important for a team,” he also added.
Vicuna also spoke on his role in the new ATK-Mohun Bagan merged identity and insisted that whatever happens, he’ll remain a Mariner for life. He said, “I don’t know what will happen next at this point in time. I have a contract with the club till the end of April. I don’t know whether I will come to India again or go back to Spain or any other country in Europe.”
“But, whatever happens, I will always remember my stint at Bagan, The situation is difficult for the officials as well. The two teams are going to merge and both are champion teams. The situation is exceptional. However, my bonding with the club would stay forever. The love and affection I have got from the Bagan fans will always stay with me. I will remain a Mariner for the rest of my life,” Kibu Vicuna added.
He also feels the away win over Real Kashmir was Bagan’s turning point of the season and the point when they really hit their stride to become champions. Kibu stated, “In a way, you can say that. The match was very tough for us. The conditions were different, it was very cold there in early January. We played on artificial turf. Real Kashmir are a very tough side to beat at their home. After that win, we accelerated and our performance graph went higher.”
The Spaniard also revealed that his wife Kasia also travelled with the team for that game and explained her influence over his career. He said, “My wife Kasia always inspires me. She went to Srinagar with us. We didn’t get much time for ourselves except for one afternoon when we went around Srinagar. She liked one Pashmina and I gifted that to her.
“With her, I have an advantage, she is also associated with football. She is La Liga’s ambassador in Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic countries. So, she understands my job and me well. We were supposed to meet at the end of this month, but now it is not possible.”, he added.
Kibu Vicuna also stated that releasing Salva Chamorro in the winter was the toughest decision he’s had to make as Bagan coach. He explained, “It was to release Salva Chamorro. He was a very good striker. But, after the tournament in Bangladesh, his confidence level was not very good. So, we decided to bring in Baba Diawara in place of Salva and it worked for the team.”