Kozhikode (Kerala) [India], March 30 (ANI): Newly-crowned I-League champions Gokulam Kerala FC was given a rousing reception when the team landed at the Calicut International Airport with the coveted trophy.
Kerala has often been known for its sheer passion for the beautiful game, and that passion was prominently on show when the fans finally got to see the coveted trophy -- their maiden I-League title.
"Kerala has been a powerhouse in Indian football. but it had been sleeping for two decades. We have had great teams like Kerala Police and FC Kochi in the past, but it was high time for us to revive that past," AIFF quoted Gokulam Kerala FC CEO Ashok Kumar as saying.
"We have proved that our state is as much a powerhouse as the likes of Goa, West Bengal, Manipur, Mizoram, or Meghalaya," he added.
Speaking about the rapturous reception that the Malabarians got upon their arrival, Ashok said, "I've never seen anything like it. The closest thing I have seen to this was when the Indian cricket team would land in Chennai, after a successful tour in Australia."
The I-League came to a grandstand finish on Saturday, when three teams were tied on the same number of points at the top of the table -- Gokulam Kerala FC, Churchill Brothers FC Goa, and TRAU FC.
Needing a win to ensure their maiden league title, the Malabarians came back from a goal down to defeat the Red Pythons 4-1.
Despite the fact that Gokulam finished on the same number of points with Churchill, who also picked up the three points in their final match of the season against RoundGlass Punjab, the former were crowned champions by virtue of a better head-to-head record.
With their maiden I-League win of the season, Gokulam Kerala has now sealed direct qualification for the 2022 AFC Cup Group Stage, subject to AFC Club Licensing. (ANI)