Howrah, August 13: It will be with a heavy heart Gokulam Kerala FC players face Air Force in Durand Cup on Wednesday even though they won its first match in an overwhelming manner.
The Malabar region, from where the I-League club is from, is battling landslides and floods and most of the players believe it would be a tough task to overcome the thought of their dear ones back home.
We heard the news about landslides and floods. It is a very bad situation there. It is a beautiful place and I grew fond of it after coming to Kozhikode last year. I can only pray from here. Hope everyone recovers from the effects of the natural disaster,” said captain Gokulam Kerala FC captain Marcus Joseph, who scored a hat-trick in the match against Chennaiyin FC.
The team comprises of several players from the flood affected districts and everyone is concerned about the safety of family members and friends. “We have already appealed to everyone to help each other. It is a bad time. We are concerned about our people,” said defender T. Irshad.
However the players believe they could find some positivity on field as they face Air Force. “They are a tough team and our real strengths will be put on test against Air Force. The boys have prepared well and we have got a gap of five days between the opener and second match. These should reflect on the pitch,” said Marcus.
Malabarians coach Fernando Santiago Varela believes that the 4-0 thrashing of Chennaiyin FC has given confidence to the players and increased their morale. “Our expectation is to do better each match. This is our objective. In the training sessions I can see, the boys have adapted to my playing style. It looks good,” said the Spanish coach.
Fernando Varela is of the opinion that the quality he has upfront will be of great use against Air Force. “They are a good team. But we have got two (Marcus and Henry Kisekka) quality strikers. Our flanks are also strong with Malem and Shibil showing good work rate. However, there is a lot to improve. We are in a process of building a better team and we should not be satisfied with the opening match result,” the coach said.
The coach is aware about the disaster that struck Malabar. “ I know the players are concerned about the situation back home . But I don’t think it will affect their game tomorrow. They are very strong mentally,” he said.