Following their gruelling semifinals the other night, Mohun Bagan and Gokulam Kerala are focused on recovering in time for the all-important final of the Durand Cup football tournament to be held at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday.
Sixteen-time champion Bagan overcame stiff resistance from Real Kashmir to record a 3-1 win in extra-time to reach another summit clash. GKFC edged past East Bengal on penalties (3-2) after a 1-1 stalemate to ensure its maiden appearance in the final.
“It is going to be very tough. Both teams played 120 minutes in this heat. Humidity is very high. The players need to recover soon,” said Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna on the eve of the final on Friday.
“Both teams have the same possibility to win. It is 50-50.”
Each side acknowledges the opposition’s strengths.
“Gokulam have good players. The last match they played in a different shape. Of course, their captain (Marcus) Joseph has scored many goals, that is their strength. Henry Kisekka is also a good player,” said Vicuna.
For GKFC coach Santiago Varela, Bagan “have a very good striker in Salva Chamorro. Joseba Beitia and Morante are also good. Bagan as a whole is a very good team.”
The finalists also understand where they need to concentrate.
“We need to focus on our style. We will try to put all our energy to play as per our style,” said Varela.
“We have to adapt to all situations. Here we are away from home. Bagan has obviously played many times here.”
The GKFC coach will have to think how he can use Brazillian midfielder Bruno Pelissari, who is not ready to play for the whole duration.
Vicuna wanted Bagan to show overall improvement. “We have to improve every aspect of the game – defensively, offensively, transitions, set-pieces. We have a lot of things to improve. We have just started the season.”
The Spaniard was happy that defensive mid-fielder Fran Gonzalez was ready to train ahead of the title clash.
The two rivals know that winning the prestigious crown in the pre-season means a lot.
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