Gokulam Kerala FC suffered an unanticipated 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sreenidi Deccan FC in their penultimate game of the I-League 2021-22 season. The Malabarians needed just one point against the Vizag-based club to clinch the title.
However, Lalromwia's first-half hattrick crushed GKFC's hopes and pushed the title-decider to the final game of the season when they face second-placed Mohammedan SC at the grand Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday.
After conceding three goals in the previous game early in the first half, the Calicut team had a couple of goals disallowed. They also had their skipper Sharif Mukhammad red-carded. Speaking about the game and where they faltered, Gokulam head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese said:
"We lost our focus on the game and concentrated too much on the refereeing. During the game, the coaches, players, or even the referee can make mistakes but we cannot lose our focus. We tried to make a strong comeback in the second half but it was not easy."
Gokulam Kerala FC need to avoid defeat in the final game to be crowned as the champions. However, the Italian gaffer reiterated that his side won't play for a draw.
"We’ve scored 42 goals so far. We play an attacking style and always go for the win. If we play to defend, with so many Mohammedan fans against us, we’ll only invite pressure. We need to play for the win to kill their hopes," Vincenzo underlined.
In midfield, proceedings might not be as easy as usual for Gokulam Kerala FC with their metronome Sharif Mukhammad suspended for the game.
When asked how the head coach hopes to cope with his absence, he averred:
"Doesn't matter who plays, we need a player with a heart. We will play in front of almost 40,000 supporters, so we need the fighting spirit more than anything."
Gokulam Kerala FC ready to take on Mohammedan in final league match
Mohammedan SC are also nicely setup for the game as they need a victory and have momentum on their side.
However, Vincenzo stressed that the Black Panthers have a experienced group of players and will have home support.
Concluding the pre-match press conference with his analysis of Gokulam's season so far, Gokulam Kerala FC's head coach said:
"We had to rebuild the team after players from our championship team last year went to play in the Indian Super League. This season, our players are mostly from the reserve team and our academy and we showed the country how Gokulam can develop players. I'm proud of the job I've done and the players."