Spreading the beautiful game across different regions of the country is one of the key objectives in Vision 2047, and the Federation’s plan to host the Hero Super Cup in Kerala, where both Hero ISL and Hero I-League teams will come together, is part of it. the-aiff.com is currently in Malappuram and Kozhikode and is following the progress of the clubs in the Hero Super Cup closely in a series of stories.
AIFF Media Team
MANJERI: Gokulam Kerala FC booked their place in the Group Stage of the Hero Super Cup when they made short work of formidable Mohammedan Sporting 5-2 in the qualifying encounter at the Payyanad Stadium on Wednesday, April 5, 2023.
A match that looked like a close battle till the one-hour mark proved to be a completely one-sided affair in the end as the Mohammedan defence caved in to allow the Gokulam strikers often a free run. In the end, the Malabarians were deserving winners as they were quick to avail the chances that came their way.
Gokulam shot into the lead in the 10th minute when their Spanish midfielder Omar Ramos received the ball in the rival box and could cut in to beat the Mohammedan Sporting goalkeeper Mithun Samanta and place the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Given the trend of the proceedings then, the Kolkata side were not far behind the local favourites in terms of exchanges and attacks. Their persistent attempts finally paid dividends in the 27th minute. The visitors played a fair amount of passes in the Gokulam area before Nigerian forward Abiola Dauda sidestepped his marker to beat Shibinraj Kunnyil under the Gokulam bar.
The start of the second half saw a flurry of activities with goals coming at both ends in fairly quick succession. Gokulam regained the lead soon after the breather, in the 47th minute. It wasn’t a goal that put the Mohammedan defence in a brighter light. Sourav ran in almost unchecked from the left – once he outwitted a defender on the run, all he had to do was to use the vacant space and then slam past the goalkeeper. His shot to the far post, however, was perfect and left little chance for Samanta.
Not to be outwitted, Mohammedan once again launched attacks and picked up the equaliser only a minute later. Dauda, who always lurked in the area looking for the stray ball, scored his second goal of the day to leave Gokulam frustrated.
But then, Mohammedan euphoria too didn’t last long as Gokulam scored thrice in a span of 21 minutes to take complete control of the proceedings. While Afghan recruit Farshad Noor made a solo run deep into the box before finding the target in the 64th minute, Thahir Zaman and Abdul Hakku scored two more goals to give it the true colour of a rout.
If the little over three thousand spectators, who thronged the stadium, left a satisfied lot, then there were enough reasons behind that. Gokulam, who earlier this season lost the battle for a third straight Hero I-League title, have made it through to Group C alongside ATK Mohun Bagan, FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC.