Kozhikode, August 8: It is almost after twelve years, a Kerala club is taking part in the historic Durand Cup and head coach Fernando Santiago Varela believes he could pull off an emphatic result for Gokulam Kerala FC in the age-old tournament.
Gokulam Kerala FC faces Chennaiyin FC at Howrah Stadium near Kolkata on Thursday at 3 PM in the Group ‘D’ opener. The Kerala team is grouped among Chennaiyin FC, TRAU FC, and Indian Air Force in the cluster ‘D’.
“We have started our training camp three weeks ago. The players are improving each day. We are playing with good pace, strength and they have started to play in my style. But we need to improve more to win the title. Our intention is to play good football,” said Gokulam Kerala FC head coach Fernando Santiago Varela.
The way the foreigners and local players combine on the field would be crucial for Gokulam, believes the coach. “We have experienced foreigners. The experience these players have is important for us. But we are a team. We need our own style. Foreigners are not playing along. They are playing along with the team. We need to combine well with them with the rest of the Indian players. We are working to improve the local players and playing along with these foreigners would bring a major improvement in them,” opined the coach.
“I hope we are in the right direction in the competition. We need to go as far as possible in the tournament. We have a tough encounter tomorrow. We need to see how the boys are faring on the field. It will be an interesting encountering,” he added.
Gokulam Kerala FC has signed four foreigners so far – Brazilian midfielder Bruno Pelissari, Ugandan striker Henry Kisekka, Trinidad and Tobago forward Marcus Leric Joseph and defender Andre Enttienne.
The squad has nine Kerala players and four of them have been promoted from the reserve team.
Marcus to lead Gokulam Kerala FC
Trinidad and Tobago international Marcus Leric Joseph will lead Gokulam Kerala FC in the 129 th edition of Durand Cup. The striker, who scored seven goals off nine matches last season, was a pivotal figure for the Malabarians last season.
“It is honor to lead Gokulam Kerala FC. I have started to love the club and fans here. It is a huge responsibility to become the captain of the team. This season I am here from the start. I want to bring happiness to all,” said Marcus.
Fixture: Gokulam Kerala FC vs Chennaiyin FC, 3pm Live on https://www.addatimes.com/sports
Goalkeepers: Ubaid CK, Vigneshwaran Baskaran, Satyajit Bordoloi
Defenders: Sebastian Thangmuansang, Jestin George, G Sanju, Mohamed Irshad Thaivalappil, Andre Dennis Chaz Ettienne, Huidrom Naocha Singh, Mohammed Salah, Moirangmayum Ashok Singh
Midfielders: Bruno Augusto Pelissari De Lima, Shibil Muhammed, Mohammad Rashid, Mayakannan, Myron Mendes, Bijesh Balan
Forwards: Marcus Leric Jr Joseph, Henry Kisekka, Lalromawia, Rahul KP, Kshetrimayum Malemnganba Meitei