The Kochi outfit parted ways with the Spanish coach on Wednesday following a disappointing ISL campaign.

On Wednesday, Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Kerala Blasters announced that they have parted ways with head coach Kibu Vicuna, thereby calling curtains on what was a failed partnership. Having joined the club in the summer of last year, Vicuna was the man in-charge of the team so far in the 2020-21 season. As everyone knows, positive results had been hard to come by.

Out of 18 league games, the team won just three, while drawing seven and losing the remaining eight matches. Meanwhile, Khel Now understands that a series of unfortunate events had unfurled at the club over the past few weeks, which finally led to Vicuna’s exit. We can confirm that the former Mohun Bagan coach was made to resign, after he lost the trust and respect of many players, including those in the team’s Indian contingent.

“He (Kibu Vicuna) lost the respect of players. There were multiple reasons for it, such as his opinions on the club’s recruitment policy and his gameplan during matches,” sources close to the developments informed Khel Now. We also understand that a member of Kerala Blasters’ foreign contingent was in-charge of ‘unofficial’ training sessions in the past few weeks, as many players found it “easier” to train under their teammate than the head coach.

“Our scouting of the players was bad, the plans and expectations for the season were higher than the reality,” the tactician had revealed after the Blasters suffered a hapless 4-0 defeat against Hyderabad FC on Tuesday. While that was the first time he said so in public, the management and the team were previously aware that he was not happy with the club’s recruitment.

For instance, he wanted at least three of his former players from the I-League title-winning team at Mohun Bagan, but all of them ended up joining other clubs after the management disagreed. He was also unhappy with some of the stars that the two-time league finalists signed for the season.

Furthermore, questions were raised on the coach’s management of substitutes in matches. One factor that attracted particular attention was how he used just one substitute in two games (against ATK Mohun Bagan and FC Goa) and many players were not happy with this. There had been overall disappointment among them in terms of the team’s performances in the second half of matches and Vicuna’s reluctance to use his options on the bench added fuel to the fire. Vicuna’s thoughts and opinions clashed more with the Indian contingent at Kerala Blasters, as they started looking up to the experienced foreign stars for guidance.

In summary, Kibu Vicuna lost control of the dressing room. He was duly informed of the same by the management and they arrived at an agreement to part ways at the end of the season. However, the shocking 4-0 defeat against Hyderabad accelerated the process, with the coach making up his mind to leave the team as soon as the final whistle was blown.

“Immediately after the game, Vicuna informed his players that it was his last match in-charge as the head coach of Kerala Blasters,” Khel Now was told. When asked about the team’s remaining league games in the post-match press conference, he had cryptically replied, “We have time to think about the next game,” indicating that he had made up his mind by then. This was followed by the official announcement by the club on Wednesday.

Additionally, it has also been understood that assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed will be taking charge of the team on an interim basis. A new permanent head coach is far from being finalized and the club will start considering options only in the summer after the ongoing season gets over. The Kochi outfit, who are currently at the penultimate spot in the standings will face Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United in their last two games before they wrap up their ISL campaign.

Update: Kibu Vicuna has denied the claims on the foreign player-led unofficial training sessions. When approached for comment, he said, “I have only one thing to say and that is about my good relationship with Karolis Skinkys. He is a very committed professional. We worked together every day and I wish him the best.”

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