I-League 2018-19:Real Kashmir to take on Churchill Brothers in Srinagar today
Srinagar, Nov 5: Amidst harsh weather, the stage is set for the first-ever I- league match in Kashmir to be played here at the Astro Turf TRC on Tuesday between the native Real Kashmir Football Club (RKFC) and Goa’s Churchill Brothers.
New to India’s top league, RKFC last week had a blistering start to the tournament, defeating defending champions Minerva Punjab in its debut game.
Being first ever club from the valley to qualify for the league, RKFC’s Scotland-based head coach, David Robertson, describes the game against Goa’s heavyweights as “historic one” for the team as well as the valley.
“It is our first home game and the first I-League game ever here in Kashmir. It is a huge event. It is a historic day tomorrow,” Coach Robertson said, addressing reporters during a pre-match press conference.
Facing an opponent team from a warm land, the RKFC coach hoped the cold weather would help them in the game.
“We saw that the weather has changed and it is going to be even colder, which, hopefully, will help us. It is going to be a tough game, as we are up against a very famous team of India,” he said.
“We got a good result in the last game and it is important we keep the momentum going and keep picking up points.”
Asked about his key players in the contest, Robertson said the “team effort and hard work” have been fetched them victories in the past.
“We won the last game based on hard work and team effort, and we do need the same. The players are focused. We got a good result in the last game and it is important we keep the momentum going and keep picking up points,” the RKFC coach said.
He said there would be “some pressure” on his team, which is playing the league for the first time.
“We will be able to make a team the Kashmiris will be proud of,” he said, adding that the club’s “professionalism and familiarity” has been able to contribute to the game in the valley.
“Few years back when I came here there was a lack of professionalism. But I think we have changed a lot and we have made good strides to make things little bit more professional, make players feel professional,” he said.
“There have been new facilities, the whole of Kashmir, the state, the government authority and the Kashmiri people together have all made this possible,” Robertson said.
Captain Loveday Enyinnaya, a Nigerian professional footballer, also said the players were getting used to the climate of Kashmir.
Churchil Brothers Coach, Peter Gigiu, in his pre-match address, said the team would put up a good show despite cold climate scare.
“I prefer to visit here as a tourist but not for the game. Since its first time I-league matches here so pressure factor is definitely there. The game is difficult for us and good for you (Real Kashmir FC). This is entirely a surprise for my players,” he said.
“We can handle the situation. We came here for a reason and no atmosphere can stop us from getting what we want. Still as a footballer you have to face everything,” Coach Gigiu said.
Captain of Churchill Brothers, Aldor Hussain, also hoped to continue their momentum after performing well in past two games.
Both the head coaches and captains shook their hands after addressing the pre-match press conference.
Meanwhile, the TRC Astro-turf is all set to host the match, with monitoring from the district administration to ensure facilities to the host teams.
“All arrangements have been put in place for tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) match at the TRC Ground and we are looking forward for an exciting game,” an official of the Jammu and Kashmir Football Association (JKFA) said.