KOCHI: Both Gokulam Kerala FC and Churchill Brothers will be desperate to get back to winning ways in the I-League when they clash at the Corporation Stadium, Kozhikode on Sunday.
Gokulam and Churchill had started off the league as title contenders but lost the plot in recent outings. Last week, Gokulam suffered a humbling 1-3 defeat to Punjab FC in Ludhiana while Churchill were handed a major upset at home as TRAU emerged 2-1 winners at the Fatorda.
With league leaders Mohun Bagan showing no signs of slowing down after posting an emphatic 3-0 win on Thursday, both Gokulam and Churchill will be eager to get back in the reckoning.
Churchill and their hosts have 10 points each and are fourth and fifth respectively in the points table.
Even though Gokulam have pulled out some impressive performances this season, they have struggled to maintain consistency. After going down to Chennai City 2-3 at home, Santiago Varela’s side made a strong return with a 3-1 away win against East Bengal before losing to Punjab by the same score a week later.
“Sometimes, football is not about mistakes but the successes of the rival,” said Santiago Varela in his pre-match press conference at Kozhikode on Saturday. “Punjab FC had the advantage as they are habituated to playing on such a field which we couldn’t get accustomed to. Maybe we lack the experience to play that kind of game, but there is nothing to reproach the players, they always give it their all,” he said.
The Spaniard, who helped Gokulam lift the Durand Cup in pre-season, added: “Churchill Brothers is a very intense, tall and defensively organized team. They are very dangerous in the set pieces. Our idea will be to impose the rhythm of the game and as always show a good football.”
On the other hand, Churchill has been enjoying better away results this season even though they have struggled a bit at home. “In my opinion, Gokulam Kerala is one of the teams that has the best players in the league. They won easily with a scoreline of 3-1 against East Bengal, they played very well against Punjab and also played well the other games that I saw,” said Churchill head coach Bernardo Tavares.
Jhingan buys 1000 tickets
India international and Kerala Blasters defender Sandesh Jhingan bought 1000 gallery tickets (Rs. 50 per ticket) for Sunday’s match. ISL club Chennaiyin FC too have bought 100 tickets. Gokulam Kerala FC have already announced to donate total ticket sales to the family of Dhanarajan Radhakrishnan, who passed away on December 29. On Friday, legendary player IM Vijayan and national team skipper Sunil Chhetri bought 250 and 220 tickets respectively to help the cause. As of Saturday, more than 7000 tickets had been sold.