I-League: Indian Arrows to open campaign against Gokulam Kerala

Indian Arrows has a new coach in Shanmugam Venkatesh and youngsters like Ashish Mishra, Ajin Tom and Vikram Partap Singh in the squad.

Gokulam Kerala players during a practice session.   -  AIFF

All India Football Federation’s developmental side Indian Arrows will begin its I-League campaign against an in-form Gokulam Kerala in Goa on Friday.

Gokulam Kerala is a much improved side from the one which was stunned by the Arrows, albeit a different outfit, last season.

The combination of Trinidadian Marcus Joseph and Ugandan Henry Kisseka is gelling well for the team as was seen in its opening game win against Manipur’s Neroca FC at home.

Coach Fernando Valera sounded cautiously optimistic ahead of the game saying, “Our triumph at home gives us confidence but we must be respectful to the rivals and we know that Indian Arrows is a very intense team.”

On the plans for the game, he added, “We need to maintain concentration, be dynamic and try to control the game.”

The Indian Arrows, on the other hand, has a new coach in Shanmugam Venkatesh and plucky youngsters like Ashish Mishra, Ajin Tom and Vikram Partap Singh and it remains to be seen whether it has settled down as a unit early in the season.

Coach Venkatesh was guarded in his assessment ahead of the Arrows’ opener.

“We are a new team and are here to produce the future of Indian football. I would like to thank the AIFF for the opportunity. It’s a big challenge and I am very excited and confident and looking forward to working with this set of boys,” said the former India senior team assistant coach.

“They are not at the same age level as the senior professionals and physically, it will be a difficult match for them. However, we have our own strengths. Stamina and technical ability-wise we are good and we will keep working on them.”

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