The best of Sahal is yet to come – Kibu Vicuna wants his star midfielder to make a stronger impact

The Spanish coach explained why he chose to sign Juande to replace Sergio Cidoncha…

Sahal Abdul Samad signed a contract extension with Kerala Blasters this summer which will keep him at the club until 2025. The move clearly indicated how highly the club management thinks of the player and also back him to be a match winner.

However, injuries haven’t helped as Sahal only has 209 minutes under his belt this season. Coach Kibu Vicuna has lately preferred to utilise Sahal on the flank and the Spaniard was asked for the reason to do so.

“Sahal has the qualities to play on the outside and inside. He is a player good in possession and also good in transitions. He is improving every day. The best of Sahal is yet to come. He knows he is an important player for us,” said Vicuna.

Sergio Cidoncha has picked up an injury earlier in the campaign and Kerala Blasters have now replaced the attacking midfielder with a defensive one in Juande. Vicuna stated that the Spaniard, who last played for Perth Glory, can play in multiple positions.

“In the first three matches, he (Cidoncha)  played in different roles. Juande is an experienced player. The last club, he played more as a number six. He can play in different positions,” said Vicuna.

Kerala Blasters are up against Mumbai City FC, who are in fine form this season as they are placed second on the Indian Super League (ISL) table.

“They are a good team with very good players. They are playing well and are one of the best teams in ISL. We are improving in the training sessions and are happy with the way we are training,” Vicuna observed.

The good news for Vicuna is that Garry Hooper, Bakary Kone and Costa Nhamoinesu are back in training after missing the last game due to injury. In their last game against Hyderabad FC where they picked their first win of the campaign, Vicuna had to field Sandeep Singh and Abdul Hakku as the two centre-backs.

“We will play with the team that we think is going to be the best. Both Sandeep and Hakku played well. They are training well with more confidence. Costa, Hooper and Kone are training. We will play with our best possible line-up which you’ll know only by tomorrow.

“Everyone wants to play. Every day we are thinking about the best team to play. Yes, we made five changes (in the last match) and the team performed well, we won. The players who came in want to stay in the team and continue playing,” he explained.

Vicuna mentioned that he isn’t a stickler for possession-based game and that with the squad at his disposal, he is flexible with his tactics depending on the opponent. This was best witnessed in their last game where they allowed Hyderabad to see more of the ball.

“It is not that we sacrificed possession, Hyderabad are also a possession-based team. We defended better, we are working on that. We created more chances. We are more flexible now, we have different possibilities,” signed off the former Mohun Bagan coach.

Striker Jordan Murray, who has been handed a start in just two matches this season, has two goals and the Australian was questioned if he is comfortable playing alongside fellow number nine Gary Hooper.

“It is definitely a healthy relationship. We all get along. For me, it was a good to play with him. He is someone I look up to. We are using each other every day. It is just work, it is a competition. I am learning every day from him, he is learning thing from me. It doesn’t cause any harm,” said Murray.