Spirited Gokulam Kerala takes on mighty ATK Mohun Bagan

The opening action in the AFC Cup group D league promises an interesting contest as recently crowned I-League champion Gokulam Kerala FC takes on local favourite and former Indian Super League runner-up ATK Mohun Bagan, at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Wednesday afternoon.

Gokulam Kerala, which four days ago created history by becoming the first team to retain the I-League title, will be banking on its new found glory to challenge the established might and legacy of ATK Mohun Bagan.

On paper ATK Mohun Bagan outweighs Gokulam Kerala but that should hardly count when it comes to the real action on the pitch.

“In real terms, the budget of one player of ATK Mohun Bagan can buy 20 of our players, including me. But the budget is only meant for the interest of media and the owners of the clubs. What really counts is the commitment, emotion and performance on the pitch,” said the Gokulam Kerala coach Vincento Alberto Annese.

“I can say that it won’t be easy for ATK Mohun Bagan. We will be playing to win tomorrow,” added the Italian manager.

For ATK Mohun Bagan, which finished third in the recently concluded Indian Super League season, this will be an occasion to improve its showing in the continental club competition.

The Kolkata giant reached the inter-zonal semifinals of the AFC Cup last year and would be eager to emulate its previous year’s performance.

“Every team in the group have three matches. So, it is important for us to have the right atmosphere in the dressing room to give our best in every match. Gokulam are high in performance but we had three weeks of training and I am satisfied with the preparation,” said the ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando.

Bangladesh league champion Bashundhara Kings takes on the Maldives’ league topper Maziya S&RC in the second match of the day.

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