Chennai, Gokulam lock horns in southern derby

Bragging rights at stake as the defending champion looks to do the double over the Kerala team
Chennai City FC’s Katsumi Yusa (left) is in a rich vein of form
Chennai City FC’s Katsumi Yusa (left) is in a rich vein of form

Chennai

Defending champion Chennai City FC will be taking on southern neighbour Gokulam Kerala FC in the return leg of the southern derby at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Coimbatore on Wednesday.

Two wins on the trot have altered Chennai’s current campaign and forthcoming expectations by leaps and bounds.A slender win over Indian Arrows coupled with a dramatic stoppage-time win against Churchill Brothers in Margao have revitalized the Lions’ season.

A victory in its upcoming match against rival Gokulam won’t just award it with bragging rights of having completed the double over the Malabarians but would also take its tally to 17 points and potentially put it in with a late shout for the title.

Belief has been the catalyst behind Chennai’s newfound resurgence but to keep the wind in its sails, a win is of utmost importance for the Champion, as iterated by Katsumi Yusa, midfielder, Chennai City FC ahead of the game.

“Belief in each other and belief in the coach’s methods. We are starting to show some fire and desire. This is a young team. So credit should go to the coach and the players for manning up in the face of many defeats,” Katsumi said.

Gokulam’s season has blown hot and cold, often seeing it coming out all guns blazing in one game while failing to keep the fire burning in the next.

With two wins, two losses and a draw in its previous five games, its campaign has been erratic at times.Its previous face-off against rival Chennai boiled over in the dying seconds when the referee brandished two red cards for Gokulam. Haroon Amiri and Mohammed Irshad were given their marching orders in that 2-3 home defeat at the EMS Stadium in Kozhikode.

“The game against Chennai City was a bit out of control, especially in the second half when two players were sent off and the goalkeeper was injured. They are still a great team and they always show it when they are trying to play. Our goal is to try to maintain the same form of play and improve on our finishing,” said Fernando Santiago Varela head coach, Gokulam.

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