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Kozhikode, February 7, 2020
In an enticing face-off between north and south, Gokulam Kerala FC will host Real Kashmir FC at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode on Saturday.
There’s not a lot to separate the two sides, with Gokulam Kerala resting on fourth with 14 points and Kashmir two places below on sixth with 12 points, having played a game fewer than their Saturday hosts.
Gokulam still remain title hopefuls and have produced some incredible displays to support their ambitions, like their impressive away win against Quess East Bengal, but inconsistency has cost the Malabarians on quite a few occasions. They dropped points at home to TRAU, drawing 1-1 in their last fixture and will be hopeful of getting the job done this time.
“Kashmir is a formidable side, but they will be playing at our home and we will play for our pride in front of our fans. My team wants to make the fans happy,” said an upbeat Marcus Joseph, captain, Gokulam Kerala FC.
On their title aspirations, he added, “This is a crucial match for us and we need to win. We have a game in hand if we win that too then, we still have a chance.”
Real Kashmir made an inconsistent start to their Hero I-League campaign this year which saw them drop to as low as ninth in the standings at one point. Since their 0-1 loss to Neroca, the Snow Leopards have bounced back and have now registered two wins on the trot against Indian Arrows and Aizawl, winning both fixtures 2-0.
The Northerners will be further aided by the acquisition of full-back Sena Ralte and veteran forward Robin Singh on loan.
“I felt we had to bolster our squad a bit during the window with a bit of experience. Robin is a top striker. It’s almost like having an extra foreign player. Ralte is a great fullback and gives me more options in that area”, says David Robertson, Head Coach, Real Kashmir FC on his new winter signings.
Speaking about their opponents, he added, “Gokulam are always a tough team to play against and more so at their home. We know it will be one of the toughest games we will have this season. They are a very good team and we will have to be at our best to come away with something.”
A win for Real Kashmir will see them leapfrog three places to third in the standings, while a win for the Malabarians could see them rise to third as Punjab FC will be able to hold onto their second position based on their superior head-to-head record over the Malabarians.