After Santosh Trophy triumph, more 'santosham' for Kerala football as Gokulam Kerala retain I-League title

Gokulam Kerala
Gokulam Kerala squad along with members of the management and Indian football legend IM Vijayan (right) poses with the I-League trophy. Photo: Special arrangement

Gokulam Kerala created history by becoming the first club to retain the I-League title with a 2-1 win over Mohammedan Sporting at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.

Gokulam Kerala had gone into the final day of the league needing a point (a draw) to win the championship again, a year after they had bagged their first I-League title.

No club had retained the title in the I-League's 15-year history.

Vincenzo Alberto Annese's side could have avoided the nail-biting finish to the championship had they managed a draw against Sreenidi Deccan on May 10, but their shocking 1-3 loss had set up a thrilling final day with Mohammedan needing a win to deny Gokulam.

Gokulam Kerala players celebrate taking the lead against Mohammedan Sporting. Photo: Special arrangement

However, a determined Gokulam took the lead through Rishad in the 49th minute and despite Azharuddin Mallick's 57th minute equaliser, the holders pushed forward and were rewarded with the winner in the 61st minute, scored by Emil Benny.

Gokulam so nearly had a perfect run as barring the penultimate round loss to Sreenidi they were in for an invincible season, which would have been a record in itself.

Gokulam finished with 43 points, including 13 wins and four draws from 18 rounds while Mohammedan settled for second spot on 37 points.

Earlier this month, Kerala men's football was back in reckoning with the state team triumphed in the Santosh Trophy with a thrilling penalty shootout win over West Bengal.

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