I-League: Gokulam meets Aizawl in fight for survival

Aizawl has a point advantage over its host Gokulam Kerala with both having played 17 matches each.

Marcus Joseph has been Gokulam's in-form player since his arrival in January.   -  Twotter @GokulamKeralaFC

Laggards Gokulam Kerala FC and former champion Aizawl FC will battle it out for survival when it takes on each other in the 99th game of the ongoing Hero I-League at the EMC Corporation Stadium here on Thursday.

Having played 17 games each this season, Gokulam Kerala, which started on a bright note, has somehow lost its sheen and now sits in the 10th place with 14 points while Aizawl has just a point advantage coming into the game.

Gokulam would also aim to come out winning against Aizawl in its return leg, after having lost 2-3 in their first encounter this season.

Gift Raikhan would look to utilise his strengths to ensure it walks away with all the three points.

Aizawl would be brimming with confidence after having played a highly entertaining 1-1 draw against title contender East Bengal in Kolkata on Monday.

Gokulam, on the other hand, has been playing attacking football ever since the appointment of its new technical director Gift Raikhan. Its new striker Marcus Joseph has really showcased his worth scoring four goals in six games while assisting in three as well.

Raikhan said: “Tomorrow is a very, very crucial match for us and for them. We have already planned how we will be winning three points.”

Gokulam’s Indian talents Arjun Jayaraj, Suhair VP and Pritam Singh have dominated the midfield but have lacked the creativity in finishing in the final third.

Aizawl would look to quickly get its act together if it wants to harbour any hopes to be saved from relegation.

Coach Stanley Rozario will need to address to the team’s goal scoring skills to encourage his players for one major push towards securing a win.

He would be banking heavily on his frontmen — Ivorian Zikahi Dodoz, Liberian Ansumana Kromah and local talent Mapuia — to fire for the team.

However, the defence will be a concern as it lacks experience and has been shaky time and again.

“I am focusing after I have taken the charge. The boys are talented and improving. They are gelling with my tactics and philosophies,” Rozario said.

“This match is vital for both the teams because we are ninth and they are 10th. Both the teams are fighting for relegation. We will continue in the same spirit and hope. We are going to look forward for good result and hoping to score the three points.”