LESS THAN TWO MONTHS after winning the Durand Cup, Gokulam Kerala FC have achieved yet another milestone for Kerala football.
When they beat Mohun Bagan to lift the prestigious trophy in Kolkata, it marked the first time a club from Kerala had won the historic tournament since FC Kochin had won it in 1997.
But now the club, established just 2 years ago, have added another feather to their cap.
TFG can confirm that Gokulam Kerala FC have been invited to take part in the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup in Chittagong, Bangladesh, which kicks off on 19th October. Their addition to the tournament was a late one; the tournament organizers reached out to them after Dhaka Abahani pulled out of the competition. The talks went on for a day before everyone came to an agreement.
According to sources close to the situation, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar played a major role in helping Gokulam Kerala FC get everything in order so the team can leave for Bangladesh immediately.
The bi-annual competition which pits the top clubs from Bangladesh against opponents from South and East Asia is recognized by the Asian Football Confederation as a Tier 2 international club tournament.
This has made Gokulam Kerala FC the very first club from Kerala to participate in an AFC-recognized international tournament.
GKFC will begin their campaign on 21st October against Basundhara Kings; the reigning Bangladesh Premier League champions.
Apart from the Malabarians, two other Indian clubs are also participating; Chennai City FC and Mohun Bagan. From Bangladesh, in addition to Basundhara Kings, host club Chittagong Abahani will also take part. Other than that, Terengganu FC from Malaysia Super League, Young Elephant FC from Lao Premier League and TC Sports Club from Maldives (defending champions) will feature in this tournament.
The record for the best performance by an Indian club in Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup belongs to East Bengal, who played in 2015 and reached the final.