Kolkata, August 23: It has been 22 years since a Kerala club won the Durand Cup, and Gokulam Kerala FC are aiming at creating history when they meet Mohun Bagan in the final of the 129 th edition of the tournament on Saturday.
FC Kochin were the previous and the only Kerala club that won the trophy before. Though another Kerala club, Viva Kerala, had participated in the tournament in 2007 they were ousted in the league round itself.
Gokulam Kerala FC had a dream run so far, winning all the league round matches in a dominant manner while scrapping past East Bengal, which won the prestigious tournament 16 times, in penalty shootout en route final.
“The penalty shootout was crazy. That was a historic comeback. I am glad that we were able to play as a team. Now we need to bring the title back home,” said Marcus Joseph, the captain.
Marcus has learnt that the win means a lot to Kerala. “I am proud to lead the club. It would be a great gift to people of Kerala, if were able to achieve it,” he said.
Marcus has scored nine goals from four matches and has led the team to the semifinal. Henry Kisekka, whose was rested after a pre-season injury, came back with a bang in the semifinal, tying up with Marcus up front.
Bruno Pelissary also had a role in the comeback as he revitalised the midfield after the substitution. Indian players also rose to the occasion to make it happen.
“Ubaid is giving us a lot of defensive security and Marcus is an exceptional player and constantly gives the team a plus. The whole team is doing great. We have taken it with responsibility and competitiveness as we have done so far,” said head coach Fernando Santiago Varela.
The head coach has deployed a style that encompasses attacking football and creativity. The coach has deployed three defenders and is relying on speedy wing-backs to set up the attacks.
Mohammed Rashid is manning the midfield with Marcus Joseph, who usually starts as an attacking midfielder. “Let see what we can achieve. It is a big game,” added the coach.