WHEN GOKULAM KERALA FC beat Basundhara Kings 3-1 at Chittagong in the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup today, they achieved more than one historic milestones.
Having been invited to play in the AFC-recognized international tournament practically at the last minute, the Durand Cup winners became the first club from Kerala to play in such a competition. And when they beat the Bangladesh Premier League champs, they also achieved a feat that no other club from Kerala had achieved before: beating the champion club of another country in a competitive match.
GKFC had a shaky start when the in-form Basundhara Kings, buoyed by thousands of vocal supporters, made early attacks and created constant pressure. But After spending the initial period sitting back and defending hard, the Malabarians started looking for ways to hit back.
It was Nathaniel Garcia who marshalled the midfield, moving across the pitch, building up attacks. The first goal came from Garcia's pass to Henry Kisekka who buried it into the net. The second goal put Garcia himself on the scoresheet, who converted directly from a 30-yard free kick with a curler.
Early in the second half GKFC got their third goal when Kisekka found the net, once again assisted by Garcia.
The last 15 minutes saw Basundhara Kings try hard to get back in the game and test keeper Ubaid again and again. They hit the woodwork once, then Motin Mia found the net off a scramble in front of the goal. They kept up an unrelenting pressure until the end, but the scoreline remained in favour of the I-League club.
Watch the entire match right here, courtesy Channel 9.
After Mohun Bagan bungled a lead and lost to Young Elephants FC and Chennai City failed to stand up to Terengganu FC, Gokulam Kerala FC became the first Indian club participating in the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup to pick up a win.
With 3 points in the bag, they have a head start in the race to semi-finals. They will face Malaysia Super League club Terengganu FC next followed by Chennai City FC, and those will not be easy matches. The Malabarians still face a lot of challenge in their bid to claim the first silverware outside their country.