Sun, Mar


Indian football legend IM Vijayan is impressed by Gokulam Kerala striker Marcus Joseph and has backed the club to win the I-League.

Marcus Joseph was the star of Gokulam Kerala's Durand Cup-winning campaign this year, topping the goalscorers' charts with 11 goals which include a brace against Mohun Bagan in the final. 

Marcus and his team are back in Kozhikode after a successful cup journey. Indian football legend IM Vijayan joined the Trinidad and Tobago striker for a chat on Tuesday and expressed his delight at seeing an all-round forward at the Malabarians. 

"I saw him play and I liked it a lot. Striker is not only there to score goals. He is passing well, dropping deep when required. Liked his goal in the final a lot. Gokulam have gotten themselves a very good striker. This team has a fighting spirit. It is not a small thing to beat East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the semi-final and final in Kolkata," an impressed Vijayan said.

The partnership between Marcus and Henry Kisekka is touted to be a big hit in the upcoming I-League season, with the duo drawing a comparison with IM Vijayan-Raman Vijayan partnership at FC Cochin. Vijayan feels it always about the team and how good the overall squad and staff are and appreciated the efforts of the club owner and president. 

He said, "Raman Vijayan and I were part of a good team. The tactics and the coaches were good. Kerala has a lot of rich people. But the fact that we're assembled here today is because of the goodwill of Gokulam Gopalan (Owner) and Praveen (President). I don't think he is making profits from this game. Everyone says the Mecca of Indian football is Kolkata but it is Kozhikode."

The Kerala-born legend feels there is no need to criticise and Indian Super League (ISL) and praised their impact on Indian football.

"ISL is a popular game and is being telecast globally. A lot of people realised about Indian football after ISL came into existence. We don't have to criticise it. The difference between ISL and I-League is the pace of the game, I-League is faster. ISL is a top league, always, and has helped the growth of Indian football."

28-year-old Marcus Joseph, who scored against East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the semi-final and final respectively, was delighted to have lifted a trophy in what is going to be his first full season at the club. 

"My first feeling (after winning the trophy) was joy, knowing that it is just my second season here, I was able to lift this title and I was excited."

He dispatched a penalty each in final two matches of the Durand Cup and believes the practice is the only way to perfect the takes. 

"It is about the practice and without it, you cannot perfect it. I practice a lot so it becomes easier. The best players miss sometimes."

IM Vijayan signed off by backing Gokulam Kerala to take the next step and win the I-League title. "If Gokulam carry on in the same away - they played well - I think they can be I-League winners."