Gokulam Kerala vs Bashundhara Kings: Preview and Prediction￼
Gokulam Kerala will clash with the Bashundhara Kings side from the land of Bangladesh in their Group stage game of the 2022 AFC Cup campaign. The final matchday of Group D is on the cards as the two diligent combatants are preparing to face each other on 24th May.
After registering an emphatic victory over the Indian counterparts in their debut continental game, Gokulam stumbled in the following fixture. The Malabarians overjoyed the triumph over ATK Mohun Bagan and seemed unprepared for the challenge of Maziya in the very next game. Although their qualification chances for the next round are still bright due to their second position in the group standings and also having the second-best Goal Difference among the competitors.
The Kings have got the backing of the whole Bangla football community who are rooting for the success of the Dhaka-based club in their third consecutive continental appearance. The commencement of their AFC Cup journey was an auspicious one which boosted their high hopes but the bubble burst soon after getting thrashed by ATK Mohun Bagan in the second fixture. Despite having the same number of points as the other three competitors, Bashundhara is sitting at the bottom after having the worst Goal Difference ratio in Group.
Gokulam Kerala suffered a 0-1 defeat against Maziya in their previous game but the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story of the match. The Malabarians were dominated right from the kick-off as the Maldivian club seemed level ahead of them. Vincenzo Alberto Annese’s side is famous for their compact defensive line although we witnessed that the Gokulam defenders were leaving the empty spaces in the danger zone very often that day.
On the other hand, Bashundhara Kings also lost their last fixture however, their defeat was a more brutal one. They were thrashed by ATK Mohun Bagan on a scoreline of 0-4 consisting of Liston Colaco’s hat-trick at the Salt Lake Stadium which threw them to the bottom despite winning the opening game. Statistically, Bashundhara matched ATKMB’s game but failed to convert the opportunities into goals.
Gokulam’s Italian gaffer Vincenzo Alberto Annese kept the same starting eleven in the second fixture to avoid any changes in the winning side. Although the idea of fielding the same eleven backfired as the opposition turned up with a complete study of the Malabarian lineup.
Despite the impressive cameo and winning goal against ATK Mohun Bagan, Jithin MS was still kept on the substitute bench as the youngster Thahir Zaman was preferred over him in the starting eleven. Although the 24-year-old Kerala’s local hero was brought on for the second half replacing Emil Benny on the pitch but couldn’t replicate the same feat against the Green Boys.
Oscar Bruzon made two changes in the offensive artillery for the ATK Mohun Bagan clash as Mohammad Ibrahim and Nuha Marong were replaced by Rimon Hossain and the Nigerian striker Matthew Chinedu. Nuha Marong who scored the winning goal against Maziya was not even included in the matchday squad due to anonymous reasons. The return of the 28-year-old Gambian forward is essential if the Bangladeshi outfit is aiming to claim all three match points.
Predicted Starting XIs
Gokulam Kerala (4-3-3): Rakshit Dagar; Abdul Hakku, Alex Saji, Aminou Bouba, Muhammad Uvais; Rishad PP, Sharif Mukhammad, Emil Benny; Jithin MS, Luka Majcen, Jourdaine Fletcher
Bashundhara Kings (4-2-3-1): Anisur Rahman Zico; Tariq Kazi, Bishwanath Ghosh, Khaled Shafiei, Yeasin Arafat; Masuk Mia Jony, Sohel Rana; Mohammad Ibrahim, Miguel Figueira, Robinho; Matthew Chinedu
It’s quite hard to predict the winner of this contest between two sides who are going through almost the same circumstances in this competition. The recent defeat was an eye-opener for both clubs and the team which takes the wake-up quickly will surely win this encounter. Gokulam Kerala will have a slight tactical advantage of defeating ATK Mohun Bagan previously who also have the same playstyle as Bashundhara Kings.