A historic game: Real Kashmir to face Mohun Bagan tomorrow
Srinagar, Nov 18: As Real Kashmir FC is set to lock horns with India’s oldest and top football club, Mohun Bagan FC, in an I-League match on Tuesday, valley’s ace footballers who hope for an upper hand to RKFC, call it a “historic game” in the history of football in Kashmir. Real Kashmir FC, which rose to fame after qualifying for prestigious I-league, will face a century old Kolkata based Mohun Bagan FC at Astro Turf TRC Srinagar. Considering the popularity of both these teams, more spectators are expected to witness the game even as the last one saw 100 percent occupancy of the stands. Fans and experts are eyeing for an exciting game of football given Real Kashmir FC’s form and the successful season of the second division of the coveted league. Kashmir’s ace footballers, who all support the local club, believe that RKFC will give a tough competition to the Kolkata giants. “It will be the first professional match for Mohun Bagan in Kashmir as earlier they visited here for exhibition match only in 2012. Our players are also professionally guided and have a better support to utilise the opportunity,” Ace footballer S A Hamid said told The Kashmir Monitor. Mehrajuddin Wadoo, former Mohun Bagan defender and currently coach for Pune based U18 team, said the game against Real Kashmir could be difficult for Mohun Bagan FC. “Mohun Bagan is the toughest opponent they have faced so far but the overall atmosphere created by some great football played by Real Kashmir FC recently is a good sign for them. It could be a difficult game for Mohun Bagan as Real Kashmir FC has that ability to give a tough competition to its opponents,” he said. Wadoo said the game against Mohun Bagan will be a significant match for local players as well. “Normally, we see Mohun Bagan on TV and now our players have that opportunity to show their talent to qualify for even bigger clubs,” he said. Wadoo added that the previous loss for Real Kashmir won’t have any impact on the team’s performance in the upcoming matches. “It is a big league and one loss doesn’t count here,” he said. Wadoo who has played for Mohun Bagan FC for five years, said qualifying for I –League in itself is the biggest achievement for any club. “Our team (Real Kahsmir FC) is the best and indeed is the crown of our state. To qualify for I-League in just two years of its establishment is not an easy job. They have created their own niche and every person here should support them,” he said. Wadoo said the match will have great significance by generating interest among locals towards the beautiful game. Another renowned professional footballer from Kashmir and former captain of Mohun Bagan FC, Ishfaq Ahmed, said the upcoming match will be a treat for football fans. “Mohun Bagan FC has its own history. Two years back they were champions. No matter I have been the captain of Mohun Bagan but I will personally love to see our Real Kashmir FC winning the match,” he said. Ahmed who claims that sentiments of Kashmiris are attached with the team said that playing in front of a native crowd is considered as biggest prize for a sportsperson. “If our home team wins I will be happier. I have even started calling Real Kashmir FC as panun team (our team) on Twitter. This team is our pride and it’s really an honour for a footballer to play for them,” he said. Sports analyst and former Director Radio Kashmir, Syed Humayun Kaiser, believed that the match will be first of its kind in Kashmir. “Everyone should watch the match. You won’t get to see Mohun Bagan in Kashmir. Whatever will be the results, the club carries a history with it,” he said.