Gokulam Kerala FC take on reigning champions Minerva Punjab FC at the EMS Corporation stadium in Kozhikode on Sunday, November 18, 2018, in what promises to be an enthralling encounter, with a win guaranteeing second place in the 12th Hero I-League standings and two teams clearly on the ascendency. The game is scheduled for a 7.30 PM kick-off under lights.
Hosts Gokulam have collected five points so far from their four games and coach Bino George seems to have built a fighting unit with local players leading the charge and foreigners acting as a perfect foil. They currently sit on fifth position and a win at home could propel them into sole second place in the standings.
They looked scrappy in their first draw at home against Mohun Bagan but ever since coming back against Neroca away from home, they have only looked better with every game. They lost an exciting encounter to Chennai at home and then completely overwhelmed Shillong in continuation with the improvement shown.
What is even more heartening from an Indian fan’s perspective is that players like Rajesh, Suhair and Gani Nigam have shown an attacking bent of mind at all times, even when the team is behind in the game. Meanwhile, skipper Mudde Musa is undergoing the suspension and it’ll continue for two more matches following the marching orders that he received against Chennai City FC.
Coach Bino was brimming with confidence and rightly so before the game saying, “We got back to the winning mode in the last match at home and played with full confidence. We will play the same way tomorrow. There is no fear or pressure amongst my boys. This is a football game and anything can happen. We will surely be happy if we beat the defending champions.”
The champions too look completely transformed with the induction of two Nigerians Donatus Edafe and Bala Hassan Dahir into their ranks. Edafe, in particular, brought some serious attacking flair in the game against Aizawl and both seem to have have formed working partnerships with the other foreign recruits like William Opoku and Philip Njoku already, making them suddenly look dangerous after a dour opening game loss to Real Kashmir.
Irishman Paul Munster, the Minerva head strategist and their enthusiastic owner Ranjit Bajaj would like nothing less than a win, which will likewise take them to the second spot from their current seventh spot in the standings.
Speaking before the game Minerva coach Munster shared, “we are very confident after the last game. For me, it’s the team who performs not any individual player. They have a mixed bag of results so far and we have seen their game plan. We hope it will be an interesting game tomorrow.”
The Kerala side will do well to tigthen their defense though as they have conceeded six so far in the four games and even though they are way ahead 7-2 against Minerva on the goals scored chart, Minerva has only conceeded two so far and in a tight clash, the better defense often wins the day.All in all it promises to be a thrilling clash between two in-form teams.
The I-League this year will be broadcast LIVE & Exclusive on the Star Sports 3 and their digital platform Hotstar along with Jio TV.
Full-time: Gokulam Kerala 1-0 Minerva Punjab
90+2: Substitution Guilherme Felipe de Castro OFF Wungyanyg Muirang IN
82: Substitution Souvik Das OFF Chinadorai Sathyan Sabeeth IN
82: Substitution Suhair VP OFF Arjun Jayaraj IN
79: Yellow card Souvik Das
76: Yellow card Suhair VP
73: Substitution Bala Alhassan Dahir OFF Alexander Kouassi Kouame IN
62: Substitution Gani Nigam OFF Pritam Singh IN
60: Goal!! S. Rajesh scores for Gokulam Kerala
46: Second half kick-off
Half-time: Gokulam Kerala 0-0 Minerva Punjab
45+20: Yellow card Philip Njoku
45+5: Substitution Luntinmang Haokip OFF Akash Sangwan IN