Panchkula: Not until 12th February had Gokulam Kerala savoured the taste of defeating a big club. They had defeated Indian Arrows, Chennai City and Shillong Lajong until then, but the 2-1 win against Mohun Bagan had coach Bino George smiling on the sidelines.
It was the Kerala club’s first significant victory and five days later they repeated the streak beating East Bengal by the same margin. Both these defeats jolted the title-aspirations of the Kolkata giants and by the time Gokulam rallied to it’s fourth away win, defeating favourites Minerva Punjab 1-0, George has made it a habit of dancing on the sidelines.
A hat-trick of wins against three of the top four teams and that too in consecutive matches but what has made George happier is the success he has achieved in fulfilling East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil’s wishes.
“After the East Bengal match, the East Bengal coach (Khalid Jamil) told me that you killed my championship hopes so you go there (Punjab) and kill theirs (Minerva Punjab)!’ said the Gokulam gaffer. The question that triggered such an answer was when George was asked how he felt on defeating two title-favourites in consecutive matches.
Gokulam were placed bottom when they played Bagan but after crushing Minerva Punjab the Malabarians have jumped to sixth, now standing on 19 points after 15 matches.
Their current position in the league table is the final spot for securing an automatic qualification to the Super Cup and Gokulam seems to be the right track after a loose start.
’My aim is to play in the Super Cup. I hear the venue could be Kerala so our (Gokulam Kerala’s) presence is very important,’’ George added.
With them already out of the title run, Gokulam have nothing to lose. “Minerva Punjab have pressure as they are fighting for the championship while we had nothing to lose.”