Coach Annese bids adieu to Gokulam

Italian led Kerala club to back-to-back I-League titles

Published - June 02, 2022 04:37 pm IST - KOZHIKODE

Vincenzo Alberto Annese, coach of Gokulam Kerala

Vincenzo Alberto Annese, coach of Gokulam Kerala | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Two years, two I-League titles, Vincenzo Alberto Annese feels it is time to move on.

The hugely successful coach is bidding adieu to Gokulam Kerala, the team he turned into the I-League football champion in two successive years. He is likely to remain in India, though. He has already been approached by ISL clubs, it is learnt.

“I will be able to make an announcement within two or three weeks and yes, I might be joining an ISL team,” Annese told The Hindu.

“I decided to leave Gokulam because I wanted a new challenge.”

More special

The 37-year-old Italian is proud of his achievements at Gokulam. “Both the I-League titles mean a lot to me, but this year’s is really special, because defending the title is a lot different from winning it for the first time,” he said.

“Besides, it was a virtually different team that we fielded this season as most of the players had been released.”

Annese said he had a good time at Gokulam. “The management gave me complete support,” he said. “I had the total freedom to select the players I wanted.”

Looking back at Gokulam’s campaign this season, he said he was confident that his boys would win against Mohammedan Sporting despite the shock loss to Sreenidi FC in the previous game. Gokulam required a draw, but defeated Mohammedans 2-1.

“I had no doubt that we would beat Mohammedans,” he said. “I am really proud of the way Gokulam performed over the last two seasons. We had a record 21 unbeaten games.”

Icing on the cake

He said he was glad to note that 12 different players scored 44 goals in the I-League this season. “It was nice to see that we were able to score some big wins,” he said. “And I was really happy when I won the I-League’s award for the best coach of the month in April.”

He said Emil Benny was the best Indian player he came across at Gokulam. “He is good enough to play for the national team,” he said. “M.S. Jithin too is very good. I was glad that I could select and groom several other Kerala players at Gokulam.”

He said he had been following the ISL closely, too. “The biggest difference between the ISL and the I-League is the quality of foreign players,” said Annese.

“Look at the way Adrian Luna and other foreigners transformed Kerala Blasters,” he signed off.

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