The Italian tactician also revealed that he feels all teams in the upcoming I-League are highly competitive.

11 teams are set to face off in what promises to be another high-voltage season of the Hero I-League as the action kicks off on January 9, 2021. Despite the latest edition being played in a revised format under a bio-secure bubble, Gokulam Kerala FC’s newly-appointed head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese feels that the ‘competitive’ nature of the tournament and its teams will remain intact and any side can defeat any other team in the league on its day.

“I have watched all the matches of the Hero I-League in the last 2-3 seasons. Each team is capable of beating any other team in the league and all the teams are highly competitive. A lot of the teams are good and we respect everyone but we are focused on our preparation. We have been training hard and are improving each day, and hope to do well in the tournament,” the Italian stated in a virtual media interaction on Thursday (December 24, 2020).

Echoing his coach’s words and sentiments was veteran defender Deepak Devrani, who signed for the Kerala side ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, and stressed on the importance of each team proving itself on the field in order to end up as champions.

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He said, “In the last few years, the Hero I-League has been won by so many different teams and one cannot predict who will win this time around as well. This league can never be easy and we cannot think that we are good on paper and can win. We have to prove ourselves on the field. I have only one aim – to win the league.”

With the upcoming season due to be played in empty stadiums without any fans, head coach Vincenzo Annese hailed the Gokulam Kerala supporters and expressed his delight at the club having such a passionate fan base.

“All the supporters of Gokulam Kerala are amazing. I am really happy that we have so many supporters and I understand that they will be disappointed that they will not be able to watch us play in the stadium. However, I know that they will be following us via social media and they can show their love and support from far.”

“We have created a terrific group and we have a lot of young, talented players. I am pleased with the team, and I am confident that the fans are happy as well,” he quipped.

The 28-year-old Devrani, who is already a two-time Hero I-League winner, stated that everyone at the club is talking about winning the competition and the mood in the team is very positive.

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“I saw the potential this club has and so, I signed for them. From the first day, everyone at the club – from the ball boys to the owner – has been positive and been talking only about the Hero I-League. Our main aim is to prepare for it and we are all giving our 100 per cent in training. It’s about all the players in the team and everyone is doing their best,” Devrani added.

Gokulam Kerala FC face off against neighbours Chennai City FC in their opening clash of the new season on January 9, 2021, in Kalyani and also took part in the prestigious IFA Shield, where they bowed out in the quarterfinals stage.

Vincenzo Annese stated, “I am happy with the performance of the team in the IFA Shield. I wanted to see our players play and the more games you play, the more you improve. We have improved a lot in pre-season and have more time to prepare for the upcoming Hero I-League competition.”

He also spoke about the ‘family-like’ atmosphere in the dressing room and gave a thumbs-up to the new players brought in at the club.

“This is just the beginning and we are really making great progress. We have a lot of good international players along with a number of very talented local players. There is great competition for starting places in the squad. The atmosphere in the group is very good and all of us enjoy our training. We are like a family,” Vincenzo Annese affirmed.

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