It will be a must-win game for Gokulam Kerala against Indian Arrows at Barabati stadium on Friday if the Malabarians want to keep their 12th Hero I-League title hopes alive.
Gokulam has lost its way a bit in recent encounters after showing some initial spark, picking up two draws at home and suffering a heavy away defeat against East Bengal.
It is currently eighth on the table with 10 points from eight games and needs a convincing win to boost confidence and resurrect title aspirations.
Arrows coach Floyd Pinto has been quoted in a recent interview as saying that it is a matter of time before results follow and Gokulam might be the ideal opportunity to get an early one.
The Arrows has suffered five losses in its seven games and is languishing in 10th place on the points table. However, it remains a threat to a side not at its best and will be better after holding former champion Aizawl to a draw in its last game.
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Coach Bino George of Gokulam has fortified his foreign recruits quickly after the sudden departure of Antonio German. Experienced Nigerian striker Joel Sunday and Ghanain Christian Sabah, might just turn out to be physically overwhelming for the young Arrows lads to contain.
Speaking to the media Bino said, “The team is playing very well but the results are not favouring us. Every match is important for me. Now, I want to improve our position on the points table. Hopefully, my boys will do a good job tomorrow and win three points.”
As for Floyd Pinto, his side has conceded 12 and scored two in the campaign and it reflects on the side's position on the league table.
It should take inspiration from the fact that it has maintained two clean sheets till now, which is better than its Friday opponents’ tally and even better than the likes of Chennai City and QEB.
Pinto was in his positive and combative self at the pre-match press conference, saying, “The league has been ultra competitive this year. If you look at the points table, a win or two can propel you up the standings and if you go winless, you can quickly drop down.
“Gokulam Kerala is an athletic and physical team. The team plays good attacking football and we need to be ready for that. We cannot rest on the decent performance that we showed in the last match,” he continued. “We need to step up again to make sure that we are a tough team and we will try to get maximum points as well.”
The Arrows should also be aware that although Gokulam has scored 11, it has also let in the same number of goals and is among the league’s most profligate defences. Therein lies its opportunity.