Mohun Bagan has once again qualified for the semi-finals of the prestigious Durand Cup as they are scheduled to play against Real Kashmir FC on 21st August at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan.
Talk Sports 24×7 got hold of Francisco Javier González Muñoz aka Fran Gonzalez, the fan favourite leader of Mohun Bagan in this tournament. The 30 year old Spaniard has turned to be a sensation among the Mariners in no time. The former Real Zaragoza defender and a key man in the Mohun Bagan defence speaks out up close and personal.
Talk Sports 24×7: Your stint with Mohun Bagan started with the Durand Cup campaign and now you have reached the semi-finals. What’s your take on the Durand Cup as a tournament and the initial experience playing here at Kolkata?
• Gonzalez: Well it’s a little bit different. Because from my experience we always used to have a couple of months of preseason to get ready for the season. Here we started this competition even when we haven’t got fit yet. I remember, before the first game I told Kibu that I was ready just to play thirty minutes because I just got ten training sessions before that match. Later on game by game I started playing ninety minutes and now I am starting to feel better. But people should understand that we are not machines and it takes time. Anyway we won the three games of the group stage and now we face the semi-final and I can say we are ready to fight for the season’s first trophy.
Talk Sports 24×7: You have turned to be a fan favourite among the Mariners in no time and are one of the few players in the team who makes his presence felt in the game with the leadership qualities. What is the reason of this skill to lead a side with your game?
• Gonzalez: I really appreciate it. Our fans make me feel like I am at home and it’s amazing! I just try to do my best every day. People can see I fight for every ball even when I am seventy per cent yet I try to help my teammates inside and outside the pitch and I really think a leader is born like that. It’s the way to get success and build the team spirit.
Talk Sports 24×7: Before the season started your coach Kibu Vicuna told that Mohun Bagan has three captains in the team. Do you think you are one of them in the defence?
•Gonzalez: Honestly I don’t need to wear the captain’s armband to be a leader. Though in most of the previous seasons I have been the captain for my earlier teams, but that don’t depend on me now. I’m glad to help the team and it doesn’t matter how. Obviously if you are the team’s captain you can manage everything inside the pitch, referees, opponents and everybody respect you even more. But as I am telling you I will keep doing my best for the team.
Talk Sports 24×7: Last season Real Kashmir FC defeated Mohun Bagan in your home game of the I-League and in the Durand Cup both of you have been on an unbeaten run. What do you see from here in the semi final?
Gonzalez: Yes I know it, but last season we weren’t here (laughs) just kidding! It’s definitely going to be a hard game for both the teams. I think they have a good team and they already know how to play their game. I hope we can score an early goal to play our football in the Salt Lake stadium. Anyway I like this kind of games cause I am a warrior, so let’s see who fights harder!
Talk Sports 24×7: What are your expectations from the ongoing season?
• Gonzalez: I don’t like to talk about the future, cause who knows it? But I really have good feelings; the way we are working we probably are on the right way. That’s why I hope we can fight for every trophy this season as our fans deserve it!
Talk Sports 24×7: Your message for the Mohun Bagan fans?
• Gonzalez: Well I would like to say thanks to all of them. We are in the national club of India and we have the best supporters. I promise them I will give my life to make them feel proud about us. It’s just the beginning, as i told you it takes time. But I really feel deep inside my heart that we are going to enjoy together this season!