Both managers showed contrasting emotions following the game.
East Bengal defeated 10-men Gokulam Kerala 1-0 to go top of the table in the I-League in a match played at the Salt Lake Stadium) on Wednesday.
A 44th-minute goal scored by Mohammed Rafique was enough to seal all three points for the Kolkata giants which saw them leapfrog Minerva Punjab at the summit.
Khalid Jamil did not look unhappy at all with his side’s defensive approach after Gokulam were down to 10-men as he said, “As long as we are winning, I am happy. All that matters to me are the three points. I am very happy to be leading the table with four wins in a row after a derby loss.”
East Bengal, now have a tough task ahead of them as they have to play four away games on the trot, the first of which is against NEROCA FC on 30th December before playing Indian Arrows, Churchill Brothers and Aizawl FC. However, Jamil did not look too concerned about the sechedule. “We are taking a match at a time and not thinking of the other matches. It may put pressure on my boys and I don’t want it at all.”
Star man Katsumi Yusa got injured after Rohit Mirza tackled him from behind in an off-the-ball challenge and was soon showed his marching orders. Yusa could not take any further part in the match as he was seen limping off the field. “His injury status is still unknown to me. He needs to show it to the doctor before I can take a final call on him whether he can board the flight with the team to Imphal. But, to me the injury is not so serious as it looked then”, the I-League winning coach concluded.
Rafique, the solitary goalscorer of the game accompanied accompanied the coach at the post-match press conference. “My job is to perform whenever the team needs me. I am always there to give my best.”
On the other-hand, Gokulam gaffer Bino George lamented East Bengal’s approach in the game. “My team had the upper hand throughout the 90 minutes after being down to 10-men. We had a lot of openings and were brave enough to do so. Its unfortunate that my two main strikers were not 100% so I had to replace them, otherwise the result could have been different. The opponent were playing with five overseas players whereas I had the pleasure of four or two.”
Regarding Mirza’s red card, George looked devastated with the decision and he blamed East Bengal players for influencing the referee as the official was ready to shown a yellow and the changed his mind.
East Bengal will now face NEROCA FC on 30th December in Imphal while Gokulam FC host defending champions Aizawl in their second home game at Kozhikode on New Year’s Eve.