Durand Cup 2019: "Football is not only about the 11 players who start in the line-up," says coach Kibu Vicuna after super-subs lead Mohun Bagan into the final
Mohun Bagan edged past Real Kashmir FC 3-1 in the semi-final of the Durand Cup after 120 minutes of football under a floodlit Salt Lake Stadium. Salva Chamorro’s 42nd-minute strike was nullified by Gnohere Krizo’s header in the dying seconds of the match. Rolling into extra-time, Suhair VP found the back of the net twice to put his team into the final and on the brink of their 17th title win.
Story of the match
Even though Mohun Bagan started at a slow pace, they accelerated as the minutes passed. Their midfield, spearheaded by Joseba Beitia was playing free-flowing football. Young Nongdomba Naorem combined well with the Spaniard and played short passes between themselves. For the first time in a while, Mohun Bagan was creative in the playmaking zone. Beitia’s shot in the 14th minute was fisted away by Real Kashmir FC’s custodian.
Nongdamba Naorem also tried his luck with a long ranger soon after, but the ball sailed away from the target. A clinical cross from Gurjinder Kumar was tapped in by Salva Chamorro in the 42nd minute. The ball rocketed into the target giving Bagan the lead. Mohun Bagan created enough opportunities throughout the game to double the lead but lacked the goal-scoring prowess.
A mostly boring second half came alive after Gnohere Krizo headed the ball in the 93rd minute of the match to extend the match into extra-time. The goal silenced the crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium for a while. Super-sub VP Suhair scored a brace in extra-time to snatch the game away from Real Kashmir FC. Another substitute, Fran Gonzalez assisted both the goals.
The equalizer in the 93rd minute of the regulation time was a bitter pill to swallow, but coach Vicuna feels that his team really played well and much better than their opponent.
“It was very hard (to deal with the equaliser). It was like we lost the match, but it was 1-1. However, I felt we played well today and were much better than the opponent. We played some good football and had created some very good chances. I feel today even in extra-time we were better and Suhair obviously scored some important goals to win it for us,” said the coach during the post-match press conference.
Substitutes Fran Gonzalez and Suhair VP made the difference for Mohun Bagan. Llauding their efforts in the field, Vicuna said:
“Football is not only about the 11 players who start in the line-up, but also the substitutes. We knew Real Kashmir is a very good team, especially physically, so we needed two players who are able physically also. Both of them gave some great performances with Gonzalez dominating in midfield and Suhair scoring the goals.”
Meanwhile, Salva Chamorro expressed his happiness with the condition of the field and feels that their game improved playing at the Salt Lake Stadium.
This pitch is better and the condition of the ground is better than the Mohun Bagan ground. I feel this pitch is perfect to play a possession, attacking game. The quality of the grass is terrific, but we knew that beforehand,” said the striker.
This will be the first time since 2004 that Mohun Bagan will play in the final of the Durand Cup. East Bengal was the winner in that edition defeating their arch-rivals 2-1. Mohun Bagan will be up against Gokulam Kerala FC in the title clash on Saturday at the Salt Lake Stadium.