I-League: Gokulam keen to settle score with in-form Churchill

If host Gokulam Kerala could continue with its habit of surprising its fancied rivals, it would be the first defeat in the league for the Churchill Brothers, the only unbeaten team in the I-League besides Chennai.

Gokulam Kerala FC players train ahead of the I-League match against Churchill Brothers in Kozhikode on Thursday.   -  K. Ragesh

Just a point separates Churchill Brothers and Gokulam Kerala. That, however, isn't the only reason why the clash between the two sides in Friday's I-League encounter at the Corporation Stadium is worth looking forward to.

After slamming seven goals in its last two games, Chruchill arrived here in great form. Gokulam, too, has looked good with its enterprising, attacking brand of football.

Churchill is second on the table, behind Chennai City, while Gokulam is third, with eight points.

If the host could continue with its habit of surprising its fancied rivals, it would be the first defeat in the league for the Churchill, the only unbeaten team in the league besides Chennai. The Goans have played five games, of which they have won two and drawn the rest.

Willis Plaza, their Trindadian striker, is mainly responsible for that record. With five goals, he is the leading scorer of the league at the moment.

His penchant for goals isn't the only thing the host has to be worried about. The Goans have defended stoutly, too: they have conceded just four goals so far.

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Having said that, Gokulam has a potent attack, backed up by a talented midfield. S. Rajesh, Gani Ahmed Nigam, Arjun Jayaraj, V.P. Suhair and Antonio German have all caused headaches to rival defenders.

Their coach, Bino George, feels only a victory would banish the ghost from last season's two games against Churchill. The team went down 2-3, after conceding a debatable penalty in the dying seconds at home before being held to a 1-1 draw in an away game with Churchil levelling through an injury time strike.

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“When I think of Churchill, those matches come to my mind,” Bino said. “So we want a victory in this game.”

His counterpart Petra Gigiu said it would be an open game. “Anything could happen,” the Romanian predicted.

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