I-League: Gokulam Kerala FC on the threshold of a remarkable triumph

Interestingly, the title can go Gokulam Kerala's way on Tuesday even before it starts against Sreenidi Deccan, if second placed Mohammedan Sporting fails to win its match against Rajasthan United FC.

Gokulam Kerala needs just a point from its remaining two matches to secure back-to-back titles and create I-League history.   -  GOKULAM KERALA FC

Football in Kerala is riding the crest of fortune. After the state team won the Santosh Trophy barely a week ago, it is now the turn for Gokulam Kerala FC to take the I-League title back home and restart the celebrations.

The Malabarians have definitely held out the strong footballing tradition of the state in its performance while outgunning every opposition in the list to remain unbeaten for a record 16 matches and etch out a six-point lead on top of the current standings.

With just two rounds to go, a point from the penultimate match against Sreenidi Deccan FC on Tuesday will be enough to see Gokulam FC (on 40 points) retain the crown and become the first team in the 15-year history of the I-League to win back-to-back titles.

The last team to attain something similar was the former Goa side Dempo SC but its feat is considered partial owing to a nomenclature problem. Dempo won the National Football League in 2006-07 season and when it won the title again next season, the tournament’s name was changed to I-league.

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Interestingly, the title can go Gokulam Kerala's way even before it starts against Sreenidi Deccan, if second placed Mohammedan Sporting (on 34 points from 16) fails to win its match against Rajasthan United FC.

Gokulam Kerala coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese wished to wrap up the issue in the next outing but remained wary of the opponent which, he felt, had the knack for upstaging bigger opponents. “We know the importance of the game and have to put out our best to get the result in our favour. It is a tough task as the opponents always apply extra power when they are playing against the leader,” said Vincenzo Alberto. “I want my players to believe in their abilities like they have done in the previous matches. And if we stick to our plan then we can easily win the needed points,” he added.

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Sreenidi Deccan FC (on 26 points) coach Fernando Santiago set up the tempo of the upcoming action by saying that his team has improved a lot compared to the last meeting (in phase one) against Gokulam FC that his team had lost 2-1. “From the last time we played them, I believe we are a better team now, in both the offensive and defensive sections. We will try to fight to define our position and not how it impacts the other teams in the table. We will be trying to get third place which I believe is the least we deserve,” Varela said.

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