I-League: Gokulam looks to bounce back against East Bengal

Gokulam Kerala FC will be looking to shake off its recent woes as it hosts East Bengal in Kozhikode, while Punjab FC will travel to Mumbai to face Indian Arrows.

Gokulam Kerala is seventh on the points table with 18 points. (File photo)

Gokulam Kerala is seventh on the points table with 18 points. (File photo)   -  AIFF MEDIA

Gokulam Kerala FC will be looking to shake off its recent woes as it hosts Quess East Bengal FC at the EMS Stadium in Kozhikode on Tuesday.

In its last five matches, Gokulam has only managed to pick up five points (one win, two draws and two losses). East Bengal, on the other hand, is on a four-match unbeaten run in the league.

The Malabarians, however, have struggled to find consistency as they currently find themselves languishing at seventh place on the table with 18 points. They have a game in hand, though, and could leapfrog to third place with a win tomorrow.

“East Bengal is a competitive team, a club with a lot of history and recognition. The two foreign additions have empowered the team and it will be a really difficult team for us,” said Fernando Santiago Valera, head coach of Gokulam Kerala.

Read | Colado's injury-time penalty helps East Bengal hold Churchill Brothers 1-1

Weighing on his team’s struggles this term, he further added, “I think that the lack of success in front of goal has penalised us a lot. We are a team that generates good football and many possibilities to get a goal and with different players involved, not only our forwards. Maintaining the same philosophy is what makes us strong as a team and the progression of the players is clearly visible.”

While there’s plenty of work that remains to be done in the East Bengal camp, a couple of steps have been made in the right direction by new coach Mario Rivera. New signing Victor Perez has been a breath of fresh air in midfield, allowing Juan Mera more freedom on the flanks and Jaime Santos Colado to bring his natural game in the number 10 position.

“The objective is to try and win all matches for the remainder of the season”, said an upbeat Mario Rivera Campesino, head coach of East Bengal.

However, the Spanish gaffer isn’t oblivious to the threat that Gokulam possesses as he added, “Gokulam are a good team. They have a quality squad with great foreigners and besides that, they know this league inside out. It’s going to be a tough one for us.”

Punjab FC travels to Mumbai for Indian Arrows face-off

The Indian Arrows will take on second-placed Punjab FC in the I-League at the Cooperage Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Punjab FC is coming into the game on the back of a draw against Gokulam Kerala FC, which hampered its chase for the title after Mohun Bagan extended its lead at the top of the table with a 3-1 win over TRAU on Sunday.

Punjab striker Dipanda Dicka is on the cusp of making a record as he sits only a strike away from completing a half-century of goals in the league.

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Punjab FC is second on the I-League points table, behind Mohun Bagan.   -  AIFF Media

Speaking before the match, Punjab FC head coach Yan Law said, "Mohun Bagan haven’t won the league yet and it's mathematically possible for us to take the top spot. So we will keep fighting till the last match and hope for the best. The Arrows are a very organized young team who keep causing their opposition all sorts of problems for the entire 90 minutes.”

Read | Mohun Bagan goes 13 points clear at top of I-League table

The Indian Arrows, after losing the first two games by margins of 1-3 and 0-2 in Mumbai, would be hoping for a better show on Tuesday.

Leading goal scorer and the captain of Indian Arrows, Vikram Pratap Singh said, “Punjab is a very good side and are second on the points table. They have many experienced players, few who have played for India in the past as well, along with a good bunch of youngsters. Our game against them in Ludhiana was a really hard-fought one and we are expecting another tough match.”

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