The versatile forward reflected on his title-winning campaign with the Mariners.
- ‘Experience in India with Tajikistan helped me join Mohun Bagan’
- Thoughts on next career move
- ‘Indian Football Team has many strong players’
Mohun Bagan were in dire straits after the first two matches of the I-League last season, where they only managed to secure a single point. Although, they won the next two matches at home, one of their consistent performers, Julen Colinas was ruled out for the rest of the campaign. Komron Tursunov came in as the Spaniard’s replacement during the winter transfer window and soon became the heartthrob of the Mariners with his impactful performances.
The young player revealed his intentions of playing in India when he came to the country during the Intercontinental Cup 2019, when Tajikistan brushed aside the Blue Tigers and Syria and only fell against North Korea at the final hurdle.
“I was in India last year when we (Tajikistan) played the Intercontinental Cup in Ahmedabad. We won against India and Syria and only lost against North Korea in the group stages. Although, we reached the final of the Intercontinental Cup, we again lost to North Korea and took second place,” recollected the 24-year-old forward in an exclusive chat with Khel Now.
Before coming to India and joining Mohun Bagan, Komron Tursunov plied his trade for Tajik champions Istiklol FC, who are the record champions in their country and have had several successful outings in the AFC Cup as well.
“I was with FC Istiklol for three years and won everything with the club during my stint there. The team even featured in the AFC Cup final. They are the best club in Tajikistan and most of the national team players play there. But, I wanted a new challenge abroad, so I joined Mohun Bagan in the winter transfer window. Since I know the country and the league here, it was easy for me to decide.”
The versatile forward also felt that his experience of playing in the Intercontinental Cup gave him an idea of the I-League. He even scored and came up with an assist against the Blue Tigers, which further influenced his decision.
“Yes, as I told you, the experience of playing in India helped me in taking a decision. I scored one and also provided an assist against India and we won. I have a good relationship with many players from the national team, some of them are my friends. Therefore, I decided to join Mohun Bagan.”
“Before joining Mohun Bagan I started looking at their previous matches and their style of play and then only decided to take this opportunity. I was not present during the Churchill Brothers loss early in the season, but we came back with a 0-3 win over them later in the campaign. It was one of the best matches I have played and also scored a goal,” opined the man who scored the historic 23-pass build-up goal against the Red Machines.
Komron Tursunov had only good things to say about the club and his experience in the City of Joy, as he added, “It is one of the oldest clubs in Asia and with the most passionate fans along with the best managers, who are very professional with every football player.”
Despite joining the club in the winter transfer window as a replacement for Colinas, the 24-year old always believed that the outfit would win the league ever since his first day in India. Kibu Vicuna used Komron Tursunov as an impact substitute in most matches, as the Spaniard showed immense trust in his abilities. Vicuna also admired his ability to play in different positions in attack.
“If you remember, when I landed here at the airport I said that I am joining this club to win the league. We won the league as a team and credit goes to our excellent coach Kibu Vicuna.” Tursunov went on to add, “He is an excellent coach and even better person. He has been successful in India and he completely deserves it.”
Vicuna showed a lot of trust in his younger players and Tursunov admits that he was surprised with the game-time that both Sheikh Sahil and Subha Ghosh managed to get last season. “We had several young players and they surprised me with the amount of game-time they had, especially Sahil and Subha. I think if they work hard they can become good footballers.”
In the eight matches he played, he scored twice and came up with as many assists last season for the Green and Maroons. Therefore, he was elated that he could help the Mariners win their sixth I-League title. However, he was also disappointed that he never got a chance to feature in the historic Kolkata Derby. He was an unused substitute in the first derby and the return leg never happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Before I arrived here, I heard that there is a huge rivalry. It is almost like Barcelona-Real Madrid. I was waiting for my chance to play in the derby, but due to COVID-19 that chance did not come.”
A lot of players who have achieved success in the I-League have jumped ship to the Indian Super League in recent years. Komron Tursunov’s feeling is no different, as the young Tajik also wants to prove himself in the top league.
“Yes! it is time for me to prove myself in the ISL, I am a free player now. I am waiting for the right offers. I already have some offers from both ISL and I-League clubs. But, there is time and I will decide with my manager what’s best for me. I think time will show where I will end up next season. I am pretty familiar with the Indian league. My manager is working on it and soon I will reveal my new club. But, I think I may stay in India for next season.
“There are offers from Europe and Asia as well, but I haven’t yet decided on anything right now,” Tursunov revealed about his next destination.
As a young Asian player, Tursunov feels that a footballer must come out of his/her comfort zone and try different challenges. He believes that Indians should follow the same path and play abroad in Asia which, will help them mature as players.
“It is very important to play outside your country as a footballer. If an Indian decides to play outside it will be better for them. Many Tajik players play in Europe and Asia and this experience reflects on the national team,” the forward opined.
Lastly, the youngster feels that the Indian national team are a strong unit and they are on a good path under the tutelage of an experienced coach in Igor Stimac. “I think the national team of India have some strong players and are in a good path mainly because they have an excellent Croatian coach. I wish the Indian national team all the best for their upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers.”