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Gokulam Kerala FC: hard-fought race in the I-League

Gokulam Kerala, Football Express

Gokulam Kerala finally achieve their dream of lifting their maiden I-League title defeating TRAU FC by a thumping 4-1 win. Additionally, they are the first ever Kerala club to lift the trophy and the first ever Kerala club to participate in any AFC Competitions.

The Malabarians would play in the 2022 AFC Cup as a result of their title triumph. It was an even better finish to one of the best seasons of the second-tier league and Kerala finally had the last laugh.

Gokulam Kerala FC were established in January 2017 representing the northern part of Kerala, Kozhikode. Let’s have a look at how the club finally achieved glory so far!

I-League glory not enough for Mohun Bagan and East Bengal!

Before the start of the 2021 I-League, it was announced that Mohun Bagan and East Bengal would be moving into the more prestigious Indian Super League. However, this move might have affected the quality of the league.

But, clubs like Gokulam Kerala, Real Kashmir, and Churchill Brothers greatly benefitted from this move. Additionally, newly promoted clubs like Mohammedan Sporting FC and Sudeva FC gave it a tough fight to win the league. TRAU FC were completely different this season under their coach and some vibrant players.

Thus, finally, Gokulam held on to their position in their league and finally deservedly won it. If the Kolkata giants would still have been in the league, either of them might have won it. Thus, their move to ISL largely benefitted the other clubs and the league became more competitive!

A perfect squad with new players and coach – that really made the difference for Gokulam Kerala

The Kerala club had been well-known for their participation in various competitions other than the league. For example, they won their Kerala Premier League trophy in their inaugural season. Apart from that, they also won the Durand Cup in 2019 and participated in Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup finishing as semi-finalists.

Similarly, in the current season, the club participated in the IFA Shield getting knocked out by Mohammedan Sporting Club. A new coach, Vincenzo Alberto Annese, replaced Fernando Varela.

The newly appointed Italian coach, aged just 36 years, also brought in some promising players like Philip Adjah, Mohamed Awal, Denny Antwi, and Sharif Mukhammad. All of them performed well and Antwi even finished as third in the top goalscorers in the league.

Finally, the coach won his first-ever trophy and also rejoicing with the part of India, where football is so important! Their women team is also performing great winning the 2020 Hero Indian Women’s League.

Will the Indian youngsters in Gokulam stay in the I-League?

There has been a lot of youngsters that prevailed in this lower-tier league and Emil Benny is one of them. His crucial goal in the 4-1 win over TRAU was surely the much-deserved goal that he needed the most.

It has always been a practice that ISL Clubs always like to buy some players from the second-tier league. Thus, the smaller ranked clubs are in constant danger of losing their key players to a better and more glamorous club.

Apart from the Kerala club, Bidyashagar Singh (TRAU) is another notable talent in the league. He won the golden boot and has been the best talent in the league!

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