Gokulam Kerala takes on Mohammedan Sporting to kick off I-League season

Gokulam Kerala, the champion for the last two seasons, is facing Mohammedan Sporting, the side it defeated in the last match to retain the title. The Kolkatan side had finished runner-up after that loss at home.

 Gokulam Kerala training ahead of the match against Mohammedan Sporting at Manjeri.

 Gokulam Kerala training ahead of the match against Mohammedan Sporting at Manjeri. | Photo Credit: SAKEER HUSSAIN

Gokulam Kerala, the champion for the last two seasons, is facing Mohammedan Sporting, the side it defeated in the last match to retain the title. The Kolkatan side had finished runner-up after that loss at home.

According to the AIFFs’ roadmap, this season’s I-League champion will become eligible to play at the ISL without having to pay the participation fee. Provided, the AIFF made it clear a few days ago, the club fulfils the licensing criteria.

So the incentive is huge for the teams competing at the I-League, which kicks off at the Malappuram District Sports Complex Stadium here on Saturday. And it is a fascinating match that the curtain will go up on the tournament with.

Gokulam Kerala, the champion for the last two seasons, is facing Mohammedan Sporting, the side it defeated in the last match to retain the title. The Kolkatan side had finished runner-up after that loss at home.

That was in May. Six months later, Gokulam is hosting Mohammedans on a ground where some 27,000 people had turned up to watch Kerala beat Bengal in a dramatic Santosh Trophy final that was decided in a shootout.

It may be unrealistic to expect such a big crowd for an I-League encounter, but this district, Malappuram, boasts some of the craziest football fans in the world. And they should be looking forward to cheering for Gokulam, for which this is a homecoming; the club is registered in Malappuram, but had played all its home matches at Kozhikode till now.

The home team has made changes for the season and has a new coach in Richard Towa. But Gokulam, as his counterpart Andrey Chernyshov pointed out, has a strong tradition.

This season’s league has 12 sides – down from 13, following the disbanding of Indian Arrows, the developmental team. And the home-and-away system is back, after the pandemic.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :
Download Sportstar App
Download Sportstar App
 Daily football podcast
 FIFA World Cup Group C scenarios
Connect With Us