I-League 2018-19: Mohun Bagan's Sankarlal Chakraborty - Gokulam Kerala are stronger than last year

Sankarlal Chakraborty
Soham Mukherjee
Sankarlal Chakraborty refused to speak on whether Mohun Bagan will join the Indian Super League next season....

Mohun Bagan kick-off their I-League 2018-19 campaign against Gokulam Kerala FC on Saturday at the EMS Stadium, Kozhikode.

Ahead of the season opener, Mohun Bagan coach suggested that their opponents Gokulam Kerala have improved after their debut season last year. 

He said, "Gokulam Kerala are stronger than last year. We are prepared for tomorrows match, we came here only for three points. The first match is always tough, home or away, whatever it may be. 

"From what I have heard, the foreigners and new local boys at Gokulam Kerala are good. Their attack is very dangerous. It is not easy to earn three points but we will try our level best."

Chakraborty suggested that Gokulam being the home team have an advantage in tomorrow's match.

He said, "The climate, ground and conditions will be an advantage for Gokulam Kerala. But, if you have to be I-League champions, then there is no home or away. You have to play and win the match."

The coach also said that there are always a lot of expectations at a club like Mohun Bagan. So they are always under the pressure to get a positive result from every game. "In India, Mohun Bagan is like an institution. Wherever we go, we have to win," said Chakraborty.

The Bagan coach refused to comment on whether the club is planning to join the Indian Super League (ISL) next season.

He said, "We are thinking about the I-League only now. I can't talk about us going to the ISL (next season). It won't be a distraction because the players are intelligent. They know what is the situation at hand. They know what is their present aim and it is winning the I-League."

Bino George Gokulam Kerala I-League 2017-18

Former Gokulam Kerala star forward Henry Kisekka returns to his old stomping ground in Mohun Bagan colours. But Sankarlal Chakraborty's counterpart Bino George is not too concerned about that fact. 

"Our team is not about Henry. It's about contributions from everyone. We don't have a superstar in our team. 

"We do have Antonio German (former Kerala Blasters forward) but he's slowly getting match-fit. He is not 100 per cent yet. But he will start tomorrow. We have a changed a lot of players and I've only recently been reinstated. So they are adapting to my style of play.

"Anything can happen in football but we're trying to improve and not repeat mistakes of last season. We have a good bench strength this season," said George. 

The coach informed that apart from Antonio German, midfielder Mudde Musa carries a niggle but both are expected to take part in tomorrow's action. 

It must be remembered that Gokulam beat Bagan away from home last season and George made it clear that although his team respects Mohun Bagan, they will go for the three points. 

"I respect their team and they are a good side. Tomorrow's match is important for us. The people coming to the stadium have expectations and we need to fulfil those and get a good result.

"As for our players, the feeling of playing on their home turf will be an advantage," concluded the coach.