I-League 2020-21: How Gokulam Kerala emerged champions

The Indian football League thus crowned a new champion for the sixth straight season

By Samrat Chakraborty

Gokulam Kerala FC trounced TRAU FC 4-1 on the final day of I-League at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan stadium on Saturday in Kolkata to emerge champions. In doing so, Gokulam Kerala FC became the first team from Kerala to lift the prestigious title. Incidentally, I-League found a brand new title holder for the sixth season straight.

TRAU FC took the lead in the 24th minute through Bidyasagar Singh. It turned out to be the lone goal for the Manipuri side, as the Malabarians came back strongly in the second-half to dominate the proceedings.

The complexion of the match changed between the 70th and 77th minute as Gokulam Kerala scored thrice through Sharif Mukhammad (70'), Emil Benny (74') and Denny Antwi (77') while Mohammed Rashid (90+8') added a fourth in the injury time to put the game to bed.

This season, the top six clubs -- Gokulam Kerala, Churchill Brothers, TRAU FC, RoundGlass Punjab, Real Kashmir and Mohammedan SC -- were fighting the championship battle while Aizawl FC, Sudeva Delhi, Chennai City, Indian Arrows and NEROCA were the teams in the bottom half and battled to avoid relegation.

GKFC in action (Courtesy: @ILeagueOfficial)

So how did Gokulam Kerala win?

Gokulam Kerala FC, Churchill Brothers and TRAU FC were a win away from sealing the I-League title. The Kerala outfit won their final match of the season 4-1 while the Goan side beat RoundGlass Punjab 3-2.

As a result, both clubs finished with 29 points each in their stipulated 15 outings. However, Gokulam Kerala recorded a better win ratio of nine matches in comparison to Churchill Brothers' eight, allowing them to finish on top of the table and clinch the title.

The Kerala outfit registered two draws and four losses in the season.

What is next for Gokulam Kerala FC?

The champions will thus get a chance to represent India in the AFC Cup 2021-22.

Which titles did Gokulam Kerala FC win before this?

The Kerala outfit won the Durand Cup in 2019. Founded in 2017, the club reached the semi-final of the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup, in 2019. Besides clinching the Kerala Premier League title in 2017-18.