DEBUTANTS Gokulam Kerala FC are gearing up for their new year clash with red-hot Minerva Punjab FC as the Kerala-based side will host the Punjab outfit at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode today (January 6, 2017).
Gokulam Kerala FC's home outing hasn't been merrier so far and they were on the receiving end in their final outing of last year when reigning champions Aizawl FC overpowered them, thanks to double strikes by Daniel Addo and Andrei Ionescu.
Coach Bino George, during the pre-match press conference, explained that the cold plunge in foreigners' form and injury is actually averting them from getting the desired result.
"Ours is a new team. It will take time for us to settle down as a unit. The same applies to players as well. Foreigners are scoring goals for the other teams. We are not getting the same sort of services from ours. That is our problem."
Meanwhile, he informed that the seasoned prolific striker Odafa Okolie is likely to debut tomorrow for the yellow outfit provided that the formalities are completed before that.
"Odafa Okolie knows what the team seeks from him. He scored nine goals in the second division last season and we had every reason to go after him. Odafa's paperwork is pending. If it is done, he will play tomorrow. Hopefully, we will get it done by today evening", obviously this words will give some sleepless nights to opponent defenders in the coming days.
Meanwhile, he added that an ex-Salgaocar FC defender Balwinder is also added to the Gokulam Kerala FC roster recently.
He further said that his team is drawing motivation from Arrow's miraculous performance against Mohun Bagan where the young guns held the Kolkata giants to a gutsy 1-1 draw.
Indian Arrows held Mohun Bagan and this is football. So we will try hard to get a result."
"Minerva lost their last match against Aizawl 2-1. Now they are coming from an extreme climate to a coastal climate. So, there will be a difference and that might give us an advantage. We need to go up the table is one win because there is not much points difference between the mid-table teams."
On the other hand, Minerva Punjab FC who had a fairytale-like start to the season had to leave the ground empty-handed against Aizawl FC in their last match. They'll surely look to churn a positive result tomorrow against the debutants and Coach Khogen Singh rightly pointed it out.
"It is an away game and the experience of an away game is different. We don't want to lose games because right now we are second in the game."
On being asked how his boys will capitalise the 10-day break and go all guns blazing, he stated,
"We had a rest of 10 days and it could be an advantage but all the teams in Hero I-League are professional and I don't think this will make any difference on the pitch. We try to maintain our style of play."
Meanwhile, Chencho, the Bhutanese playmaker is continuing to mesmerise the crowd and has been the vital cog for the Blue outfit so far. Although Khogen Singh didn't mince his words to praise him, he praised the teamwork which is actually earning them the results.
"Most of our players are young guys. We trust in how we work. Chencho is playing his part but he alone does not make a difference in football. He is a good player but we have done well as a team", Khogen Singh said.
Meanwhile, Khogen Singh completely denied that they would come out tomorrow as the 'favourites' and he exuded that 'anyone can win any day'.
"All I-League teams are equally good. Anybody can win against anybody. All teams want to win the game and Gokulam Kerala FC are no different. We have to continue our work and stick to our strategies to get the work done."
The match is scheduled to kick-off at 05:30 PM and it'll be telecast on Star Sports 2, 2 HD and streamed live on Hotstar and Jio TV.