KOZHIKODE, 30th December, 2017: Newcomers Gokulam Kerala FC are all set to welcome reigning champions Aizawl FC at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Coimbatore on the new Year-eve (December 31, 2017) at 2:00 P.M. Both teams are approaching the tie from completely different scenarios but both will look forward to taking away with nothing less than all three points before they bid 2017 adieu.
While debutants Gokulam Kerala FC went down to heavyweights Kingfisher East Bengal 0-1 in Kolkata, the Highlanders got the better of Minerva Punjab FC in Aizawl, thanks to the double strike by Kareem Omoloja Nurain and Andrei Ionescu in the second half. Coach Bino George sounded elated on his team’s return to home after the away trip.
“It always feels great to be back at home. Our last home game didn’t go well but a lot has changed since then. We’re now going to face the champions and we’re really pumped up to prove our worth against the Champions”, George stated. He further said that foreigners’ injuries are putting the team-composition in a real jeopardy. “Injury to foreigners have been the biggest issue we were facing and we couldn’t get good foreigners as it was outside the window when we got the entry.”
Incidentally, Kamo Bayi who was instrumental in Aizawl FC’s title-winning campaign last season might give this tie a miss owing to his aggravated injury from the last match. He’ll surely rue the opportunity to prove his goal-scoring ability clad in the yellow outfit. Moreover, two other foreigners Leo Mbele and Khaled Al Saleh have been released by the club management of late.
Paulo Menezes who has a decent start to the season so far is looking forward to this tie is ‘important than the last game’. “This game is important than the last game. We are aiming full points. I and some of the players know how important football is in Kerala and it would be a difficult game. We have a young team with quality players. They have performed very well so far and I am happy with them. The team is fit and high on morale. We expect a tough game”, Menezes vented.
On being asked whether the hot and humid weather might impose a bigger challenge for his team, he lashed it completely. “There is no problem. I think the players can adjust to the climate. The effect of weather is more psychological”, the Portuguese coach expressed. Menezes further said, “We started I-League after Mizoram Premier League and our couple of players got injured. So we were not able to start well but I think any team in the league has a chance to win the title. There are no clear favourites as of now.”
The match is slated to kick-off at 02:00 PM and it’ll be telecast on Star Sports 2, HD 2 and streamed live on Hotstar and Jio TV.