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Relegation-battlers Real Kashmir gave us more problems than ATK Mohun Bagan: Gokulam Kerala FC head coach after AFC Cup victory

Gokulam Kerala FC players and staff celebrating after scoring against ATK Mohun Bagan. (Image Courtesy: Twitter/GokulamKeralaFC)
Gokulam Kerala FC players and staff celebrating after scoring against ATK Mohun Bagan. (Image Courtesy: Twitter/GokulamKeralaFC)
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Sayantan Guha

Gokulam Kerala FC hammered Indian Super League heavyweights ATK Mohun Bagan 4-2 in their debut AFC Cup match on Wednesday, May 18. Head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese, in a fiery post-match press conference, opined that I-League relegation-battlers Real Kashmir FC posed a greater challenge than the Mariners.

Vincenzo Alberto Annese expresses his views 🗣️Do you agree❓#GKFC #Malabarians #AFCCUP #GFCAMB https://t.co/BsaH0S93ts

With a brace from Luka Majcen and a goal each from Rishad PP and Jithin MS, the Malabarians breezed past the Green and Maroon Brigade at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium.

In a message to the All India Football Federation, Vincenzo Annese underlined:

"I can make an analysis video and show that Real Kashmir, who were fighting for relegation in the I-League, gave us more problems than ATK Mohun Bagan. This is what I want to show to the AIFF. This is the truth."

The head coach further pointed out that the Indian football federation needs to realize that there is no difference in quality between the players in the I-League and the ISL.

None of the players called up for the Indian national men's team to prepare for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers in June are from the I-League. Vincenzo Annese urged national team coach Igor Stimac not to ignore the players playing in the I-League.

He said:

"AIFF must understand that there is no difference between I League and ISL. They should also select players from the I-League. Now we are playing a high level of football and they played with eight national team players. And still, we beat them 4-2. I believe the players in the I-League should also have a chance to represent the Indian team," the Italian gaffer said.

"Tactically, we were more disciplined than them" - Gokulam Kerala FC head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese after victory against ATK Mohun Bagan

🚨 FT | 🇮🇳 @GokulamKeralaFC 4️⃣-2️⃣ @atkmohunbaganfc 🇮🇳 A memorable night for Vincenzo Alberto and his men, as they make a statement on their debut on the continental stage 💯🙌🏽#AFCCup2022 | #GFCvAMB https://t.co/lvO0zMrFut

ATK Mohun Bagan dominated proceedings initially in the game and had multiple opportunities to pull ahead in the first half. But Gokulam Kerala flipped the switch in the second half as they came out firing on all cylinders.

Luka Majcen opened the scoring in the 51st minute for Gokulam. But being a goal down, the Mariners grew desperate and pulled a goal back within a matter of minutes. However, the Calicut-club were relentless as they scored two more goals in a short span through Rishad and Majcen.

ATK Mohun Bagan's star winger Liston Colaco scored a stunning free-kick to reduce the deficit, but Jithin MS's 89th-minute strike pull down the curtains on Green and Maroon Brigade's hopes of finding an equalizer. Speaking about the game, head coach Vincenzo Annese said:

"We only had two days to prepare for the game as we were still playing in the I-League until May 14. Many of our players are coming back from injuries. But we played very well and were focused on each ball. Tactically, we were more disciplined than them, especially in the defensive space."

Gokulam Kerala FC have had a dream start to their maiden AFC Cup journey. They should be in good spirits when they face Maldives’ Maziya Sports and Recreation Club next.


Edited by Puranjay Dixit
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