Starting on a high note with a 4-2 win against ATK Mohun Bagan, Vincenzo Alberto Annese's Gokulam Kerala FC fumbled in the way with two back to back losses against Maziya SR and Bashundhara Kings by a goal margin. The campaign graph for the Malabarians seemed really shocking after the dominant display of football is the I-League as well as the AFC Cup opening day, While goals from Robson D Silva and Nuha Marong handed Gokulam Kerala FC the exit ticket, we at The Bridge identified certain aspects that lead to the downward slope.
While Luka Majcen started on a great note with two goals and assists in the opening game, his momentum faded with time. The player failed to register any shot on target for the remainder of the games. As for Jourdaine Fletcher, although he remained impactful in the front third, Fletcher found only a consolation goal against Bashundhara Kings. However, he has been sustaining an injury, which has been the case for Majcen as well. Jithin MS was expected to replicate his I-LEAGUE form but failed to do so.
Vincenzo Alberto Annese's lineup garnered a lot of criticism from people as he made some questionable decisions whose effect was seen throughout the game. With Rishad being a defensive midfielder, and the midfield trio of Rishad- Shariff- Emil Benny workout wonders for the side on their opening day. With Rishad shifting to the back, where he could not match the intensity with both the goals being converted from the end. At the same time, the absence of Hakku was felt thoroughly. However, it remains highly debatable as to why Mohammad Jassim was not given a start despite having good defensive stats
Although it was aforehand stated that playing competitive games throughout the time has been a boon in disguise for the I-League Champions, Coach Annese resonated the cause of the downfall as the fatigue faced by his team as a result of playing seven competitive games in a span of three weeks. Despite the results, the coach remained highly optimistic about his team about the game they played and the intensity the I-League showed in the tournament with a squad containing players from reserved benches competing against national and international level candidates.