Mohun Bagan won their fifth league title in the combined era of National Football League (NFL) and the I-League. Kibu Vicuna has etched his name in the heart of every Green and Maroon supporter having played an important role in ensuring Bagan’s success in what was their final season in the I-League.
Bagan have since gone on to merge with Indian Super League (ISL) winners ATK with the new entity set to participate in the premier league of the country, namely the ISL.
Vicuna credited the efforts of his players who made a brilliant comeback after not having won their first two games, which included a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Churchill Brothers at Kalyani.
“I am no hero. I am just a coach. The real heroes are my players who won the league.
“Indians are very emotional people. When we lost to Churchill Brothers we played really well. We had 27 shots on goal. But that is football. In the next match, we won in spite of not playing that well, as we did against Churchill Brothers. I liked the way we trained and the style we played. Good results came later and I am really thankful,” said Vicuna in an online Polish show.
Before taking up the job at Bagan, Vicuna was working in Poland at Wisla Plock as a coach and he had a multitude of offers to pick from.
“There was an offer from Croatia, Lithuania, and Kuwait. The same from the US. But concrete offers only from Croatia, Lithuania and India. We talked and thought that trying in Asia will be interesting. Mohun Bagan is not popular in Europe but is 130 years old. They are like Real Madrid or Barcelona in Spain. Maybe more like Real Madrid,” said the Spanish coach.
Vicuna also heaped praise on the organization of the I-League and also praised the mentality of Indian players who are constantly looking to improve.
“The league is well organised and it is interesting. When we played in Kashmir, it was -1 degree. In two days, we were in Coimbatore and it was 27 degrees. It is not easy to adapt. About the level, the truth is that Indians are not as good as Polish tactically and technically. But if we are talking about mentality, they are always willing to get better. The foreign players are really good. We had Baba Diawara, he played for Sevilla, Levante, Getafe,” he mentioned.
Vicuna, who has joined Kerala Blasters in the ISL as their head coach, remembers his time at Bagan fondly.
“I am very happy that we were like a team at Mohun Bagan, like a family. We weren't that good technically as were in Wisla Plock but being together Mohun Bagan was the best,” he reminisced.