The oldest football tournament in India, the Durand Cup, returned for its 130th edition on September 5. But defending champions Gokulam Kerala had to wait for a week to play their maiden game of the 2021 edition. Gokulam were drawn into Group D along with regimental teams Assam Rifles, Army Red and Hyderabad FC.
Vincenzo Alberto Annesse’s men finally played their first game of tournament on September 12 and anything short of a win was not enough for the I-League winning head coach. However, the reigning champions started their title defence with a draw against regimental side Army Red 2-2 in a Group D match of the Durand Cup 2021 at Kalyani Stadium on Sunday. The southern club started on a positive note and even secured an early lead when Rahim Osumanu found the Army Red net with a spectacular long-range attempt in the ninth minute.
However, things became difficult for Gokulam when its first-choice goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar had to be replaced after he collided with Army Red’s Mukesh Kumar. Substitute shot stopper Ajmal P. A. was called in and coach Vincenzo’s side soon fell. Army Red’s P. Jatin equalised at the half-hour mark, before Bikash Thapa secured the lead just before the end of first half. Gokulam regrouped in the second half but had to wait till the 70th minute when Sharif M. Mohammad scored from a penalty to share points with Army Red at the end of play.
The Malabarians lost several good chances in the final 25 minutes and would be the more disappointing side for sure. Coach Vincenzo was not happy with the result. It was evident during a post-match interview when he was asked about the team’s performance. He started off by saying it was bad result as the opponents played better than us and even went to say that they lost against a team that doesn’t even play much football and it’s a “matter of shame”.
Meanwhile, the coach’s interview/video was shared on social media platforms and several fans were riffed with his remarks.
Sharing a clip of coach Vincenzo’s video one user took to Twitter and wrote, “Great game Army Red, we don’t think you guys are people who never played football. May be Gokulam KeralaFC’s coach was talking about some other sport”.
“He must be careful Army did a good job and many Times I felt they were the better team,” remarked a third. “This kind of statement is not good for him or the club” he added.
He must be careful Army did a good job and many Times I felt they where the better team this kinda statement is not good for him or the club— Varun (@varunchandranb) September 12, 2021
In their next game, Gokulam Kerala will lock horns with Hyderabad FC who are in red hot form.