The Hero I-League returns after the New Year break and Gokulam Kerala FC, who played their last match on December 16, will play host to sixth-placed Aizawl FC in Kozhikode on Saturday.
What seems to be a mid-table clash can prove to be a boost for both the teams as a win can take one of them into the top three temporarily.
Gokulam Kerala FC will be glad that they will have Andre Ettienne back in the defensive line up after a match’s suspension. It is safe to say that the Kerala outfit felt his absence as they went down 2-1 against Mohun Bagan in Kalyani before the long break.
Speaking before the match, Gokulam Kerala FC head coach, Fernando Andres Santiago Varela, said, “The team has a great mentality, strength of overcoming and character, these factors make us strong and we will feel it on the pitch.
“While we made some mistakes against Mohun Bagan, we also had many options to tie and made a very good second half. We have high morale because we defend and we will always defend our style of play to make the people of Kerala proud of us.”
Aizawl FC, who have played two matches more than the home team, already have a win and three draws to their name, which has kept them in the race but a concrete result has eluded the team from Mizoram.
They have been scoring goals but it seems the team’s defence has often let them down.
Youngsters like William Lalnunfela and Rochharzela have led the attacking unit from the front and have been amongst the goals. The challenge, though, in front of Aizawl gaffer Stanley Rozario will be to find a way to not concede goals.
Aizawl FC head coach Stanley Rozario looked confident before the match.
He stated, “In the last three matches that we have played at home, we have drawn all of them. It is unfortunate that in spite of creating so many chances we couldn’t finish the game.
“I believe we need a little bit of luck, the match against Punjab would have ended in our favour if the last-minute handball wasn’t given. But you can’t do much about it, we have to respect the decision.”
He also stressed that he is really happy with the performance of his players and said, “Overall I am happy with the performance of my players (6 points in 5 matches) but we have to win the upcoming matches to move upwards in the points table.
“I want my players to go with a winning mentality and show character and commitment.
The match will broadcast LIVE on DSPORT from 7:15 PM IST straight from EMS Stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala.