It will be a must-win game for Gokulam Kerala FC against Indian Arrows at Cuttack’s Barabati stadium on Friday, December 21, 2018, if the Malabarians want to keep their 12th Hero I-League title, hopes alive.
Gokulam have lost their way a bit in recent encounters after showing some initial spark, picking up two draws at home and suffering a heavy away defeat against Quess East Bengal (QEB).
They are currently eighth on the table with 10 points from eight games and need a win and a convincing one at that, to boost confidence and resurrect title aspirations.
Arrows coach Floyd Pinto has been quoted in a recent interview as saying that it is a matter of time before results follow and slightly on the backfoot Gokulam might be the ideal opportunity to get an early one.
The Arrows have suffered five losses in their seven games and are languishing in 10th place on the points table. However, they remain a threat to a side not at their best and will be better after holding former champions Aizawl to a draw in their last game.
Coach Bino George of Gokulam has fortified his foreign recruits quickly after the sudden departure of Antonio German. The likes of the experienced Nigerian striker Joel Sunday and Ghanaian Christian Sabah, might just turn out to be physically overwhelming for the young Arrows lads to contain.
Speaking to the media on match-day eve, Bino while acknowledging the loss of German as a temporary blow to the team, remained positive, saying, “The team is playing very well but the results are not favouring us. Every match is important for me. Now, I want to improve our position on the points table. Hopefully, my boys will do a good job tomorrow and win three points.”
As for Floyd Pinto, his side has conceded 12 and scored two in the campaign and it reflects on their position on the league table.
They should take inspiration from the fact that they have maintained two clean sheets till now, which is better than their Friday opponents’ tally and even better than the likes of Chennai City and QEB.
Pinto was in his positive and combative self at the pre-match press conference, saying, “The league has been ultra-competitive this year. If you look at the points table, a win or two can propel you up the standings and if you go winless, you can quickly drop down.
“Gokulam Kerala is an athletic and physical team. The team plays good attacking football and we need to be ready for that. We cannot rest on the decent performance that we showed in the last match,” he continued. “We need to step up again to make sure that we are a tough team and we will try to get maximum points as well.”
The Arrows should also be aware that although Gokulam have scored 11, they have also let in the same number of goals and are among the league’s most profligate defences. Therein lies their opportunity.