I-League: Kashmir is a challenge for Mohun Bagan of Kibu

KOLKATA: The city is experiencing one of its coldest winters in recent years. However, Mohun Bagan players now prepare for much colder conditions while heading to Srinagar for their first I-League 2020 game when they face Real Kashmir FC at TRC Ground on Sunday.

The minimum temperature in Srinagar for the remaining days of the week is projected to fall below the zero degree Celsius mark, while the maximum temperature will not rise beyond four.

While he accepts that cold and artificial turf, apart from opponents, will pose a great threat, green and brown coach Kibu Vicuña says his team is ready for the challenge.

“The cold is going to be a challenge for the team. However, it also represents the diversity of India. You go to Kashmir, Kerala or Punjab and find different weather conditions. It goes to a difficult game ... Kashmir is one of the best teams. There is also the appearance of artificial grass. We will train there. But we are ready for the next game challenge, said Kibu, whose team will travel to Srinagar on Thursday.

Bagan had defeated Real Kashmir in the Durand Cup earlier in the season but the Spanish coach feels that this will be a different game. “In Durand Cup, only three foreigners were allowed. Now, six foreigners can be in the mix. That definitely changes things, ”Kibu added. “I have seen all matches of Kashmir in the I-League. They have tall players and good central defenders. They also play a different style of football and it will be a test for our defense. Going to Kashmir and returning with three points is the real challenge.

Another interesting subplot in the game in regard to the Kolkata team is the participation of the new recruit: Senegal striker, Papa Babacar ‘Baba’ Diawara.

“He goes with us. I met Baba nine or ten years ago when I was with Maritime (in Portugal). It is not easy to play for Sevilla, it is one of the five best teams in La Liga. He also scored against Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid. He has played for great teams and has more experience now than when I first saw him. It's ready to play, we'll see if 90 minutes or less, ”said Kibu. You will lose the services of the suspended Gurjinder Kumar.

Another new recruit, Komron Tursunov of Tajikistan, joined the team's training on Wednesday. However, it is not part of the travel team. “It will need more time. You can play in different positions; on the wings as No. 10 and also as forward if necessary.