As thing stand, the Malabarians have very few chances to finish in the top five spots.

High-flying Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) will look to distance themselves from other mid-table sides when the Nandakumar Singh-coached side take on Gokulam Kerala FC in the I-League at the KBK Stadium in Kolkata, West Bengal tomorrow (February 13, 2021). The kick-off is slated for 2 PM IST and the match will be broadcasted live on 24 News, while simultaneously being streamed on 1Sports’ Facebook page.

The Dark Horses of the current season, TRAU defeated Aizawl FC in their last match courtesy of a stellar counter-attacking performance that saw star striker Komron Tursunov’s early strike to be the difference between the two sides in a narrow 1-0 win. With TRAU playing before both Churchill Brothers and RoundGlass Punjab, a victory for Nandakumar’s side will put pressure on the other two to perform. Moreover, if results go their way third-placed TRAU could very well be level on points with the league leaders Churchill Brothers.

Speaking at the official pre-match press conference, head coach Nandakumar said, “Getting a good start to the game is what every coach wants. We have scored a few early goals this season. That has been a result of the hard work of the players, on the field as well as on the training ground.”

“Gokulam Kerala FC are a very skilled, and mature team. We have seen their attack at full force against Punjab and NEROCA FC. They have different attacking options who have found the net regularly.”

“It is going to be a hard match against them, especially now in the absence of defender Helder Lobato. However, the players have trained hard, and are in good shape. We will give our best to pick all three points tomorrow,” he added.

Goalkeeper Amrit Gope, who was instrumental with his number of saves against Aizawl, was also present at the press conference. He said, “The win in the last game has boosted our confidence, and the morale of the team is very high. Gokulam Kerala are a strong side, with quality strikers. If we follow our coach’s strategies and give our 100 per cent, we will definitely win.”

Gokulam Kerala have had a mixed season so far as they sit in the bottom half of the I-League table with seven points from six games. However, Vincenzo Annese’s side still have a chance to make up lost ground and move up into the top half of the table. To do so, they have to start by defeating the high-flying TRAU.

Speaking at the virtual pre-match press conference, coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese said, “We still have to find consistency. We lacked a lot of things in the last game. Moreover, Mohammedan returned to form. There were a lot of negatives, we need to learn from that and find our feet.”

“Our team has rested well. The team needs to be more aggressive in midfield. We hold more possession than any other team and more shots. But, we have been unable to score. The team has been working on it on the training field and with a little luck on our side, I am confident we can return to winning ways.”

Goalkeeper CK Ubaid said, “We are preparing well for TRAU. They have good attacking talent that our defence needs to be wary about. We might have not got the results we would have wanted, but still we can make up for it.”

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