The 99th game of the ongoing Hero I-League season will hold a lot of importance as Gokulam Kerala FC will battle out for survival against former champions Aizawl FC at the EMC Corporation Stadium, Kozhikode.
Having played 17 games each this season, Gokulam Kerala FC, who started on a bright note, have somehow lost their sheen and now sit in the tenth place with 14 points while former champions Aizawl FC have just a point advantage coming into the game Thursday.
The game is scheduled for a 3:30 pm Kick-off.
Gokulam would also aim to come out with a win against Aizawl FC in their return leg, after having lost 2-3 to the formers champions in their first encounter this season.
Gift Raikhan would look to utilise his strengths to ensure they walk away with all the three points. While Aizawl FC would be brimming with confidence after having played a highly entertaining 1-1 draw at title contenders Quess East Bengal in their last encounter in Kolkata.
Gokulam have been playing attacking football ever since the appointment of their new technical director Gift Raikhan. Their new striker Marcus Joseph has really showcased his worth scoring four goals in six games while assisting in three important goals as well.
Raikhan said, “Tomorrow is a very very crucial match for us and for them. We have already planned how we will be winning three points. By hook or by crook, anyhow and tomorrow’s match for us will be like ‘a stepping stone’. We have already marked our objective and the strategy for tomorrow’s match with the boys. We are ready to fight tomorrow for three points.”
Gokulam’s Indian talents Arun Jayaraj, Suhair VP and Pritam Singh have safely dominated the midfield but have lacked the creative finishing in the final third. What will be a matter of concern for Gift Raikhan is their defence, which has been struggling for quite some time now.
On the other hand, Aizawl FC will look to quickly get to their act together after having an impressive run, if they want to harbour any hopes of coming out unharmed from the relegation battle.
Coach Stanley Rozario will need to address to the goalscoring skills to encourage his players for one major push towards securing a win. He would be banking heavily on his frontmen – Ivorian Zikahi Dodoz, Liberian Ansumana Kromah and local talent Mapuia to fire for the team.
However, the defence is what should be a concern for the former champions as well, which lacks experience and have been shaky time and again. Aizawl FC coach Stanley Rozario said, “Now, I am focusing after I have taken the charge. The boys are talented and improving. They are gelling with my tactics and philosophy.
“This match is vital for both the teams because we are ninth and they are tenth. Both the teams are fighting for relegation. We will continue in the same spirit and hope. We are going to look forward to a favourable result and hoping to score the three points,” he further said.
It will be interesting to see how Raikhan sizes up the team that he had coached earlier this season. The Gokulam Technical Director will surely have a few tricks up his sleeves, but Aizawl have also shown character since Stanley Rosario took over from the former boss.