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AIFF Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar lauds Gokulam Kerala FC for 'wholesome development' in both men's and women's football

Gokulam Kerala are the reigning champions in both the I-League and the Indian Women's League. (Image Courtesy:Twitter/GokulamKeralaFC)
Gokulam Kerala are the reigning champions in both the I-League and the Indian Women's League. (Image Courtesy:Twitter/GokulamKeralaFC)
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Sayantan Guha

With just three rounds of matches remaining in the I-League, defending champions Gokulam Kerala FC sit pretty at the top of the standings. They are the reigning champions and are on course to conquer the title yet again.

Meanwhile, Gokulam Kerala FC women's team routed ARA FC 8-0 in the Indian Women's League on Thursday and are the favourites to win the tournament.

Full-time: GKFC 8-0 ARA Yet another rout by GKFC women scoring eight goals against ARA FC, extending the unbeaten run to a total of 16 games in the IWL. 🚀#Malabarians #GKFC #ShePower #IWL2022 https://t.co/NDefBmCawt

In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, All India Football Federation (AIFF) CEO Sunando Dhar commended the development of the Malabarians' men's and women's teams. Sunando Dhar said:

"Gokulam Kerala have been playing well for the last few years. It's not just about the boys, the girls are currently the IWL champions and are the favourites to win it this year as well. In the I-League as well, it's Gokulam's championship to lose given the way they're playing. They play with confidence and flair, which is fantastic to see."
"Credit to Gokulam management, they've done well, and they are the only team among the ISL and I-League clubs who have got a team in the Indian Women's League. They give equal importance to both their setups and that's fantastic."

In the I-League 2021-22 season, the Calicut-based club have been a class apart, oozing quality and confidence right from the first whistle.

Under head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese, Gokulam Kerala FC are currently on an all-time league record of 20 matches unbeaten in a row. Unless there's a miraculous downfall, the Malabarians will seal back-to-back I-League titles.

ALSO READ | Many I-League clubs already working towards securing ISL promotion next season: AIFF Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar

League table! 🚀Malabarians are unbeaten so far in the season with 37 points from 15 matches. 💥⚡️11 Wins⚽️40 Goals🧤6 Clean sheets. #Malabarians #GKFC #ILeague https://t.co/4T6kxBUq0P

Should Gokulam Kerala extend their unbeaten run until the end of the season, they could become the first-ever invincible champions in I-League history. Speaking about the Kerala club's incredible run, I-League bossman Sunando Dhar said:

"Obviously, they're doing well in men's football as well. They have qualified for the Asian competition, which was always in their plans. With the AFC Cup coming up immediately after the I-League, these upcoming matches will give them the best match practice for the Cup games. If they win the league this year, they're back in Asia again next year."

The Malabarians will start their AFC Cup journey on May 18 with a clash against Indian Super League heavyweights ATK Mohun Bagan. Along with the two Indian clubs, the group includes Maziya Sports and Recreation Club from the Maldives and Bashundhara Kings from Bangladesh.

Sunando Dhar also underlined that Gokulam Kerala has opted for a holistic approach rather than just plunging money into their men's senior team. The club has also taken the initiative to expand and develop football in their state, irrespective of gender.

Kerala recently won their seventh Santosh Trophy title and a couple of players from the Gokulam reserve team were part of the winning squad. Speaking about the same, Dhar said:

"Credit to Kerala and Gokulam, a lot of young talents are coming out of the state. As you can see in Kerala's Santosh Trophy team as well, there were three or four players from the Gokulam reserve teams. The club also recently tied up with the Kerala government to open up football schools for girls across the state. So that's the kind of wholesome development that they're looking at."

Over the past few years, with their clear dominance across categories in Indian football, Kerala have established themselves as the unrivaled superpower in Indian football.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Blasters too had an outstanding season in the Indian Super League and fell just short of winning the title.

With the two clubs representing the state at the top level of Indian football, it could only mean greener pastures in the future for Kerala football.


Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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