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I-League 2018-19: Real test for Real Kashmir today

Srinagar, Nov 19: The stage is set for the historic and probably the most-awaited I-League match between Real Kashmir FC and Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan FC to be played at Astro Turf TRC Ground on Tuesday.

Popularly known as Mariners, Mohun Bagan is the oldest and most-celebrated football club of India, which will be playing its first official match here.

 

A day before the match, football fans, particularly those of Real Kashmir FC, thronged to the TRC ground for passes to the match.

At least, more than 6,000 passes were given to the ecstatic spectators, who are aiming to watch the game.

An official deputed at TRC ground said they were expecting “more than 15,000” spectators.

“People for long have been waiting for the event. Mohun Bagan is a popular football club and it is not less than a treat to watch them play in Srinagar,” he said.

More than three dozen Mohun Bagan fans have also travelled with the team for the game.

Defeated by Neroca FC alone this year, the Snow Leopards hope to turn the opportunity into a grand event.

“Since Mohun Bagan is a big club, pressure will definitely be on them. To play against a club like Mohun Bagan, the chances will be definitely less for us, but we have to put up a good show,” Real Kashmir FC Head Coach, David Robertson, said in a pre-match press conference.

“Teams coming here find it difficult because of the altitude and unless you are here five-six days here before the game, it is going to be very difficult in the last 20 minutes of the game,” he said.

Coach Robertson said facing Mohun Bagan in Kashmir would be “more than an achievement” for his team.

“We have one point out of six in the last two games. But then we are underdogs, and saw just one defeat in the last one year,” he said.

He said the previous defeat against Neroca FC won’t have any impact over the performances of his players.

“Last time we got a lot of chances and made errors even, but it is a part of a game. But tomorrow we will have some changes as Danish is currently injured. Bazie Armand and Mason will play at different positions. We got options as we are bringing four strikers and also need more for upfront,” Coach Robertson said.

“The support by Kahsmiris, who come in numbers, actually gives us an edge. We don’t have the history like Kolkata clubs, but again, since we are in I-League and the people’s support adds pressure on the away team,” Coach Robertson said.

Head Coach of Mohun Bagan, Shankarlal Chakraborty, said facing Real Kashmir in their hometown was more worrying for them than playing on synthetic turf for the first time.

“We came prior to the scheduled match to practice more on synthetic turf, but Real Kashmir team as a team is more worrying for us. They lost the previous match, but they are good at creating chances for a goal,” he said.

“The way Kashmir played the last game was really good. They have a good combination of both Indian and foreign players. Their defenders, midfielders are very strong. We hope we put up up a good show against them and win three points,” Coach Chakraborty said.

Asked whether his players will cope with cold weather conditions Chakraborty said, “As far as the weather conditions are concerned, we did train in the afternoon yesterday. We were not uncomfortable. After warming up, the body responded well and the players had a good session.”

Both the teams have played three games each so far.

Mohun Bagan is one of the three unbeaten teams in the league and is fifth on the table.

Real Kashmir is seventh, with four points.