Kozhikode, September 4: Gokulam Kerala FC have announced the 24-member squad, consisting of 12 Kerala players, for the Durand Cup 2021. The team has left Kozhikode for Kolkata to take part in the cup.
Malabarians, who are the defending champions of the Durand Cup, are in the Group ‘D’, and face Army Red Football Team in the opening match on September 12.
In the second match, GKFC face ISL team Hyderabad FC on September 16th followed by the final match against Assam Rifles on September 19.
Like last year, GKFC have promoted two reserve team players – Rishad PP and Abhijith K – to the senior squad. Both are midfielders whereas Rishad was the captain of the reserve team that won the Kerala Premier League.
Of the 12 Kerala players, eleven are from the Northern Kerala region where the club is based.
To strengthen up the team, the club has signed four foreigners this season. While the contract of midfielder Sharif Mukhammad was renewed, Cameroonian defender Aminou Boubo, strikers Chisom Elvis Chikatara from Nigeria, and Rahim Osumanu have joined the club.
The club also has retained 11 players from its I-League title-winning squad.
“Our aim is to defend Durand Cup. It is a historic tournament and we will try our best to win the tournament. I believe that we have a strong squad to make this happen,” said Gokulam Kerala FC head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese.
“We have given opportunity for our young players this year also. The number of Kerala players in the squad reflects our philosophy to build a team with local players. Defending Durand Cup is one of the top priorities and I believe, the team has the capability to do it,” said VC Praveen, the club president.
Durand Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Ajmal PA, Rakshit Dagar, Vigneshwaran Bhaskaran
Defenders: Aminou Boubo (Cameroon), Mohammed Uvais, Pawan Kumar, Deepak Singh, Alex Saji, Ajin Tom, Mohammed Jasim
Midfielders: Emil Benny, Mohammed Rashid, Sharif Mukhammad (C), Zodingliana, Rishad PP, Abhijit K, Charles Anandraj
Forwards: Chisom Elvis Chikatara (Nigeria), Rahim Osumanu (Ghana), Jithin MS, Ronald Singh, Sourav, Beneston, Thahir Zaman