Kozhikode, August 25: Defending champions Gokulam Kerala FC will start their Durand campaign on September 12th as they face Army Red Football Team in the group ‘D’ encounter.
The other teams in the Group ‘D’ are Hyderabad FC, and Assam Rifles. There are four groups in the tournament, and the top-placed team and the runners-up in each group will enter the knockout phase that starts on September 23 rd.
After September 12th, Malabarians will face Hyderabad FC on 16 th and their last group match is against Assam Rifles on September 20 th.
Gokulam Kerala FC are the reigning champions as they won the last edition of the Durand Cup held in Kolkata in 2019. The team defeated Mohun Bagan, 2-1, to lift the cup. Malabarians are the second team to lift the coveted trophy after FC Kochin.
“We know that we carry lot of expectations because we are the defending champions. We will try our best to keep the expectations of our fans. Our team has been preparing at Kozhikode for the tournament for the past one month. We will be playing with the same aggressiveness and attacking flair that helped us to win the ILeague last season,” said GKFC head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese.
The coach explained that it will be a good challenge for the team to participate in the tournament.
“We have retained 11 players from the last years’ squad and there are 13 new players. So we have to prepare them both mentally and tactically to have the same tempo we had last year in the league. The players need time to coordinate and understand each other and I hope the tournament will be a launch pad for our ILeague campaign,” said the coach.
“Gokulam Kerala FC play in all the tournaments eyeing championship and that has been the philosophy of the club from its inception. We have assembled a squad that is a mixture of both young and experienced players. We hope to retain the title and make Kerala proud again,” said club president VC Praveen.
The team is expected to leave Kozhikode for the tournament on September 4 th.