The Kerala Blasters tactician was quick to dismiss the suggestion that Bengaluru FC are unusually weak this season.

The GMC Stadium in Bambolim, Goa will witness a fiery clash between two long-time rivals, as Kerala Blasters lock horns with Bengaluru FC on Wednesday. Kibu Vicuna and his boys lost 4-2 to the Blues earlier on this season, but would be eager to make amends as they meet once again in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21.

Ahead of the much-anticipated fixture, the Spaniard along with goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill represented Kerala Blasters in the pre-match press conference. The duo shared their thoughts on the game, the opponents’ form and more.

Bengaluru FC’s winless streak

As you already know, Wednesday’s game will be the second of the two league matches between Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC this season. When both teams took on each other in December, KBFC were still looking for their first victory of the campaign, while BFC were on an unbeaten run. However, circumstances are a bit different this time with the Blues not winning any of their last five matches, while the Yellow Army gathered seven points during the same period.

Despite that, Vicuna believes circumstances do not play much of a role against a team like Bengaluru, who have been following a similar style of football throughout the season. “They are a good team with good players. Yes, maybe the circumstances are a bit different, but the preparations for the matches remain the same,” he said.

“The objectives are the same as well – to play a good game and to improve in offensive and defensive aspects. The set-pieces are going to be very important as well. They have been playing in a similar style throughout this season and were one of the semi-finalists last time, so we expect a competitive game.”

WATCH: Kibu Vicuna and Prabhsukhan Singh Gill speak at the pre-match press conference

Absence of Bakary Kone

During the summer, the Blasters were in the news for signing Burkinabe centre-back Bakary Kone, who had plied his trade against the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Ligue 1 prior to his arrival in India. However, he is yet to find his form this term and last played against Odisha FC in the first week of January.

Asked about his absence and if a transfer is on the cards for the player, Kibu Vicuna said, “He suffered an injury against East Bengal (in December). He then came on in the second half against Odisha, but wasn’t fully fit.”

“Today, he will resume training with the team after a brief break. We will have to see if he can make it into the XI tomorrow,” he further added.

Dimas Delgado’s exit from Bengaluru

In what came as a bit of a shock for fans, the Blues announced on Sunday that Dimas Delgado would be returning to his home in Spain for personal reasons. Delgado was one of the standout players for his team when they faced the Blasters earlier this season, which means that his absence could cost them dearly on Wednesday.

However, Kibu Vicuna was of the opinion that the game is not influenced by just one player. “It’s true that Dimas is a very good player, but they also have others like him. Fran Gonzalez, for instance, is someone I know personally. He can play as a central defender as well as a midfielder. There are others like (Erik) Paartalu, (Sunil) Chhetri and Suresh (Wangjam),” he said.

Thoughts on Subha Ghosh

In late December, KBFC announced the signing of Subha Ghosh from ATK Mohun Bagan, with Nongdamba Naorem heading in the opposite direction. However, things took an unexpected turn a few days later, as Naorem was found to be injured, which in turn led to ATKMB cancelling Ghosh’s transfer in the Central Registration System (CRS) of the AIFF.

The national governing body of the sport has since taken up the issue, but a final decision is yet to be made. On that note, Vicuna was asked about the current status of the player.

“This is more of a question for the club and their management,” the 48-year-old replied. “They are trying all possible ways to make him stay with us. Meanwhile, he is training with the team. He also played a friendly game for us last week and scored the winning goal. I am sure that he is waiting for his opportunity to play.”

Prabhsukhan Gill’s comments

Young goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill was also present at the press conference and he expressed his thoughts on facing his former club on Wednesday. “It is always nice to be facing your former club,” he said.

“But, all that we are focusing on right now is the three points tomorrow. The semi-final spots are still on and we have done well in our past couple of games. So, hopefully we will get the three points tomorrow,” he added.

Gill was also asked about his thoughts on not earning a place in the Yellow Army’s starting XI yet. “The lack of starting chances is not affecting me in any manner. It does not matter as to who plays – be it myself or Albino (Gomes) because we are helping the team anyway and that’s what is more important. As professionals, these things should not affect us. We have to keep going and keep working hard,” he explained.

Vicuna on goalkeepers

“It is always extra difficult as a goalkeeper because they cannot be changed every game. So, all you need to do is to wait for your chance and keep working hard in the interim.” At this point, the coach intervened once again, as he revealed that the team is happy with each of their four goalkeepers.

“We have four goalkeepers and Prabhsukhan is one of them. Although Albino is our first-choice starter, we are happy with Prabhsukhan, Bilal (Khan) and Muheet (Shabir) as well. Each of them is working hard,” Kibu Vicuna commented. This was followed by a question about the Spaniard himself and Gill said, “One thing I can say about him is that he is very honest. He gives proper feedback about our performances in training.

“He is also very friendly, both on and off the field. Time and again he has told us that his door is always open for the players, in case they want to discuss any problems, both personal and professional. All these things help us a lot,” the 20-year-old signed off.

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