Gokulam Kerala coach Vincenzo: My philosophy is to win each game

Coach Vincenzo sees the upcoming Durand Cup as the perfect platform for him to prepare Gokulam Kerala for the I-League and AFC Cup.

Gokulam Kerala won its maiden Durand Cup title two years ago.

Anything short of one-hundred percent - in terms of effort - is not enough for Gokulam Kerala head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annesse as his philosophy is to win each and every game.

Surrounding the 36-year-old Italian from Bari is plenty of confidence, expectation, and intensity, and it has the fans of Gokulam Kerala excited ahead of the 130th edition of the Durand Cup.

Coach Vincenzo sees the upcoming Durand Cup as the perfect platform for him to prepare his entire squad for the I-League and AFC Cup.

'A lot of expectations'

"We know very well that preparation for this season will be hard, because we have a lot of expectations, especially for AFC Cup which we will be playing this year.

"We start the season with Durand, which will be good preparation for the I-League campaign. It will provide a good opportunity to establish good chemistry between our players," he said during a show titled Durand Talks.

Preparations for the new season have been difficult for Gokulam owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coach weighed in on how his side made the best out of a bad situation.

"We started on 2nd August. We have been playing friendly games with local teams. There is a lot of talent over here in Kerala, it also gives us an opportunity to watch other players, and also to help us field a good team tactically in preparation for the season," he said.

'Virtual training'

Vincenzo also explained how "virtual training" helped his side.

"We are coming back after five months. Players weren't able to work out properly during this time. The COVID situation in India was so bad for the last four-five months.

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"We have tried to maintain fitness via video call, group calls. We have been in consultation with Prof Garcia - our physical coach - to maintain a regime for our fitness at a high level. We also did some tactical exercises.

"Day by day, we have been trying to improve ourselves, but first, most important for me is the physical aspect, because four-five months without football isn't easy.

"First of all, it is important to reach a good physical condition. In this kind of preparation, it is important to not get injured. Tactical aspects are secondary in that regard. For now, everything is going well."

'Don't play for a draw'

The Durand Cup commences on September 5, but Gokulam won't be playing its first game until September 12. It has been drawn in Group D alongside Hyderabad FC, Assam Rifles, and the Army Red Football Team.

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"We will see a lot of goals. If you watch our games, you will see we always score goals. I am very emotional on the bench. I don't play for a draw. I will love for us to score a lot of goals (in the tournament). In the I-League last season, we scored 31 goals with 10 different goal scorers."

The core of this Gokulam Kerala side has changed drastically since its maiden Durand Cup win. As a matter of fact, only 11 players remain from Gokulam's I-League winning squad from last year. The Durand Cup presents coach Vincenzo with the perfect setting to try and experiment with a few combinations.

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