ISL: Kibu Vicuna heaps praise on Kerala Blasters duo Sahal Samad and Nongdamba Naorem

New Kerala Blasters coach Kibu Vicuna has already begun his homework to replicate his success in the Indian Super League (ISL) that he achieved with Mohun Bagan in I-League. 

The tactician believes that he has got a good squad under his belt and spoke highly of players like Nongdamba Naorem, who was on loan at Bagan last season under Vicuna, and Sahal Samad, who he thinks can make a difference for Blasters. 

"Nongdamba Naorem is a different player. He is intelligent, smart, and technically sound. In Kerala Blasters we have Sahal Samad. He plays for the Indian National team. I watched him play last season. He is different. He is very creative and has a good vision. He has good long balls and through balls. 

"People in India say that Chhetri is the best player. I have watched him play for Bengaluru FC. He is 35 years old. He is good, but for me not great," stated the I-league winning coach in an interview with a Polish media outlet. 

Blasters have not been in their best form in the past two seasons and Vicuna believes that his target will be to seal a playoff spot. 

"ISL has playoffs and then final. Kerala has never won the league. Two years ago they finished ninth. In the previous year, they finished seventh. It would be a good deal to qualify for the playoffs. The best four teams qualify and it will be difficult."

Joseba Beitia Mohun Bagan I-League 2019-20

Vicuna also shared his opinion on the difference in quality between I-League and ISL. He feels that the better players are in ISL and the level is a notch higher than I-league.

"ISL has better footballers than I-League. All national team players are from ISL. Even foreign players are better in ISL. There is Ferran Corominas, who played for Espanyol or Carlos Pena who played for Valladolid. Even Bartholomew Ogbeche played in Valladolid, Cadiz. Lot of good players in ISL. There is a good mix of young and old players. Roy Krishna is one of the best players in the league. He is very fast and has the potential to play in a good European team. He is a difference-maker. David Williams is also very good. Joseba Beitia is also a good player. He could easily play in Segunda, Segunda B." 

Bartholomew Ogbeche kerala Blasters

The former Wisla Plock coach had a good experience in India and he feels that he will continue his journey in the country in the foreseeable future. But Vicuna did admit that he did have some teething problems in the beginning while trying to understand the culture of the place. 

"At the beginning, I didn't really understand much. When I asked if we can start our training at 5 PM, they didn't say no. But they also didn't agree but eventually, it was a no. I couldn't understand. If they cannot, then okay, but please tell me that. They couldn't say no to their coaches. They were not taught that. It was hard at first but then we understood. It is a different culture. I liked it there. It was a good experience overall.

Vicuna also revealed that he held talks with FC Goa, as revealed by Goal earlier, before opting to sign for the Kochi-based club.

"Football is dynamic and with this virus, things are really difficult. I don't know (whether I will get back to Europe). Talking about AFC Champions League, FC Goa will be playing there. We held talks with them but we decided to go to Kerala. We have our goals and we will focus only on Kerala Blasters," concluded the manager.