Gokulam Kerala ready to defend title


I-League 2021-22 Live – Gokulam Kerala FC: When Gokulam Kerala first entered the I-League in 2017, the goal was to win the trophy for the state. The first goal to win the I-League title is achieved. As the new season begins on Sunday, Gokulam Kerala FC will not attempt to defend their title but will also have a go for the 1st time in AFC CUP: Follow I-League live updates on InsideSport.IN

Also read: I-League 2021-22 LIVE: After 21 years wait little known Kenkre FC ready to realize dream of playing in I-League, check out

I-League 2021-22 LIVE: Double challenge for Defending champions Gokulam Kerala FC, defend I-League title & make GOLDEN debut in AFC CUP

Gokulam Kerala FC Dual Target on Radar? Kerala has always been a hotbed of football, with multiple clubs and numerous legends going on to enthrall football fans across the country. But even in their pomp, a top-tier title had always eluded the football-crazy state until 2021 when Gokulam Kerala FC clinched the I-League title on the last day of the tournament.

Armed with the same ambition, coach Vincenzo Alberto Annense has returned to the club for another crack at the title along with dreams of progressing in the AFC Cup. The Italian knows it will be harder this time around with many clubs having superior resources to others recruiting top talent. Even his club has undergone a sea of change with many players leaving for the Indian Super League while being replaced by many young, hungry players looking to make a mark.

“Indian football is unique in the sense that each season there is a lot of change. Every club undergoes the same and we have been no different. Real Kashmir have a fixed structure with the same coach for many years and they have recruited dangerous players. Everyone is aware of Mohammedan Sporting who have almost a whole new team. Punjab have brought in players from the ISL which should help them,” the Italian manager explained.

I-League 2021-22 Live: Gokulam Kerala ready to defend the title, but it will be tougher this time around, check details

But Vincenzo Alberto Annense remains firm when asked whether he thinks he can work his magic a second time around.

“If I was not confident, I would not have come back to India. Nobody puts me under pressure but myself. The pressure to win comes from within and not from outside. It’s my choice to continue here and the aim is to win again.”

From being dubbed giant-killers in their first ever season, to defending champions, the team has tweaked things the right way to ensure success. But even the most ardent fans would not have envisaged a title coming last season.

I-League 2021-22 Live: Gokulam Kerala ready to defend the title, but it will be tougher this time around, check details

A squad full of youngsters, some of whom would be plying their trade at that level for the very first time to pinning their hopes on a young Italian coach. But it worked wonders and the mantra remains the same this season.

“We have managed to keep hold of a few members of our title-winning squad. Jithin MS, Sharif Mukhammad being there is good news. Last time I counted, we have eight players who have never played in the I-League. I’m happy to see many players make the U-23 national team which shows the good work we have been doing. With the new players we have recruited and the players we have, we will surprise the league and fans for sure,” the coach added.

I-League 2021-22: Gokulam Kerala are aware of the challenges that come with defending the crown
I-League 2021-22: Gokulam Kerala are aware of the challenges that come with defending the crown | Gokulam Kerala Twitter

Young defender Alex Saji is eager to cement his place in the first team and says working with Vincenzo Alberto Annense has helped him and the squad to improve further. His philosophy and style of play has been a breath of fresh air, something which players have bought into, ultimately contributing to the famous triumph.

I-League 2021-22 Live: Gokulam Kerala ready to defend the title, but it will be tougher this time around, check details

“The confidence is high after last season. The coach has an attacking philosophy and we need to follow his advice and continue in the same way. His style was different from what we usually see in India with more focus on possession and keeping hold of the ball. Our attacking style was what helped us win in the end,” the 21-year-old centre-back commented. He has even managed to make his way into the U-23 national team, thanks to his displays with Gokulam.

Apart from other teams, playing a long league inside a bio-bubble is another major challenge. But Vincenzo Alberto Annense asked fans for their continued support while vowing to make them proud one more time.

“According to me, focusing on opponents is not my style. I study them tactically but focus always on us. We have played lots of games in pre-season which is a bonus. The first aim is to stay in the championship group and then take it from there.

“Bubble life is difficult to adjust and on top of that the absence of our passionate fans will be another major miss. But we will always give our 100 per cent whether in training or in games and hope to come up trumps this year as well,” the coach signed off.

Gokulam begin proceedings with a blockbuster tie against two-time former champions Churchill Brothers who missed out on the tile last season on goal difference.

I-League 2021-22 Live: Gokulam Kerala ready to defend the title, but it will be tougher this time around, check details

– Advertisement –



Source link