Durand Cup: Gokulam Kerala FC’s win reinvigorates Kerala football

A jubilant Gokulam Kerala FC team after clinching the Durand Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on August 24, 2019.

A jubilant Gokulam Kerala FC team after clinching the Durand Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on August 24, 2019.

The stunning victory of Gokulam Kerala FC over local hero Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday evening in the Durand Cup final is a silver lining in the history of Kerala football. Not because it is the second time in the 131-year-history of the oldest football tournament in Asia that a Kerala team is winning, but because it comes as a short in the arm for Kerala football, especially for club football in the State.

Kerala Blasters, which plays in the more glamorous Indian Super League (ISL), may be better known and has more fan followers. But Gokulam Kerala is more of a home-grown club. The great win at Kolkata should increase Gokulam's fan base and boost the morale of the team management.

Promoters of such clubs need significant trophies like this, especially at a time when I-League clubs are feeling let down by the All India Football Federation.

The importance of the promoters will become more obvious when we think of the plight of the only team from Kerala that won the Durand Cup – FC Kochin. Kerala's first ever professional club, was disbanded after its owners found it unsustainable. The fate of FC Kochin's successor, Viva Kerala, was not different.

Gokulam Kerala is owned by Gokulam Gopalan, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Kerala.

The Gokulam management has invested enough to revamp the team for the new season. The team had disappointed at the last I-League after a promising start.

Saturday’s win will definitely help Gokulam start its campaign more confidently for the I-League, which will kick-off in November. Riding on a brilliant performance from Trinidad & Tobago star Marcus Joseph – he scored 11 goals including two in the final – Gokulam ended as the most deserving champion. The shock win in the semifinal over another Kolkatan giant, East Bengal, had raised hopes. Spanish coach Fernando Santiago Valera's boys lived up to those expectations, much to the joy of a football-mad State.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2022 3:02:51 am |