As the I-League 2019-20 inches closer to the half-way stage, fourth-placed Gokulam Kerala FC will aim to snap the four-game winning run of third-placed Manipuri side Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC, as they go head-to-head in a key clash at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala, on Sunday. (More Football News)
TRAU could not have asked for a better debut season as they are on a four-match winning streak now since the Imphal derby over cross-city rivals Neroca FC. Since their defeat to Quess East Bengal in the second week of December last year, they are also in the midst of a six-game unbeaten run. Gokulam, on the other hand, have been blowing hot and cold, winning half of their eight games so far but also losing three in the process.
Speaking ahead of the game, Gokulam's Spanish coach Santiago Varela refused to accept that his side was too dependent on the heroics of Trinidadian captain and talisman Marcus Joseph saying, "We have always shown to play in a way that all players are important in our game." He added: "TRAU are a balanced team with good individuals and intensity. The plan is always to be the protagonists, control the game and be offensive. We will go in search of three points from the start."
Marcus, in fact, along with Ugandan Henry Kisekka has accounted for nine of Gokulam's 12 goals so far and the duo will have to do an encore if the hosts have to stop the TRAU juggernaut in their tracks.
For the visitors, it was captain Princewill Emeka of Nigeria who shared his views before the game and he sounded composed and confident saying, "For us, it is going to be a really tough one but we remain positive. It all boils down to the 90 minutes on the pitch. Neither the records nor the past form will play for us. We will stick to our game plan. We have players who can take care of the likes of Marcus and Henry. We look forward to the 90 minutes."
Besides Gokulam's foreign duo, the likes of Falguni Singh and Premjit Singh for TRAU have also impressed with their skills.
Their recent great form notwithstanding and the confidence, the visitors have conceded more than they have scored so far and that will be a worrying factor against the likes of Marcus and Henry upfront, that too at home.
The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kick-off and will be broadcast live on 1Sports and streamed on FanCode app.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine