The Malabarians became the second side from Kerala to win the Durand Cup title after FC Kochin.
A brace from captain Marcus Joseph was enough for Gokulam Kerala to beat Mohun Bagan 2-1 in the 129th Durand Cup final at the Salt Lake stadium. The Malabarians became the second club from Kerala to win the Durand Cup title after FC Kochin, who won it back in 1997, also against Mohun Bagan.
It was a cagey affair on Saturday evening and was filled with tight calls and controversial decisions. Although the Mariners reduced the deficit through Salva Chamorro but it was not enough for Kibu Vicuna’s men at the end.
Vicuna was disappointed with the result but the Spanish tactician lauded his players and the fight shown by his men.
“I don’t think it was our day. We kept on trying and they played well, defended well and were dangerous on the counter with Henry (Kisekka) and Marcus (Joseph). We pulled one back late on and also kept on trying but as I said it was not our day”.
The Mohun Bagan head coach made controversial comments regarded the referring decisions. Vicuna pointed out two particular incidents, from which Gokulam scored on both occasions.
“I think there were two situations. The first goal according to me from the field it was a clear offside. Also, the penalty was unbelievable. I respect the officials but they disrespected me. That is something I and the club (Mohun Bagan) will not accept,” Vicuna asserted.
Vicuna also claimed that fatigue played a huge part in the game, as the players were tired after playing 120 minutes against Real Kashmir. “I think both teams were tired, even the opponent were getting cramps, hamstrings. I think we lacked tempo in the first half but we finished well. I think playing the Durand Cup alongside the Calcutta League is too much for the players,” he added.
Vicuna also feels that his team is getting into shape and it will take more time to gel and set in a proper playing style. “We have not even trained for two months. The players are adapting to a new style. The players are playing a good brand of football. Tonight the opponents played well and as i have said before we need to improve in all areas, ” the Spanish coach concluded.
On the other hand, Gokulam Kerala head coach Santiago Valera was delighted with his team’s performance but was not happy with his compatriot’s comment on fitness.
“We have been together for one month less than Mohun Bagan has. I don’t think you can give excuse after you win or lose. We are in good shape and we have a good physical trainer. Also, it is not about physical always you have to train both tactically and physically,” Varela opined.
Valera was accompanied by the man of the match and Golden Boot winner, Marcus Joseph at the press conference. The 28-year old has scored 11 goals in five games shared his feelings about their Durand Cup win.
“It is a dream come true for me. Yesterday I was telling Ettinne (Andre) that we can win the tournament. We came one month ago and trained hard for this day and now winning it is a great feeling,” said the Carribean striker.
Marcus also clearly stated his ambitions for the upcoming season as he has set his sights on the I-League trophy. “Now we need to work hard and I would love to get the golden boot there as well and also I want the I-League trophy,” Joseph added.
The Trinidad and Tobago international also expressed his feeling about winning against East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in their route to the Durand Cup title.
“We came here and defeated them and showed that we don’t fear any team. We are a big team as well,” Joseph concluded.