I-League: Back in Kashmir, Snow Leopards to face Chennai today
Srinagar: Real Kashmir FC Head Coach David Robertson shakes hand with Chennai City FC Head Coach Akbar Nawas ahead of their I-League match ,in Srinagar, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. PTI Photo by Umar Ganie
Srinagar, Jan 27: After six successful away games, Real Kashmir FC is all set to resume its home leg with a match against the table toppers Chennai City FC on Monday at Astro Turf here.
Debutant RKFC is ranked third in I-League, just five and three points away from the heavyweights Chennai and Churchill Brothers. Monday’s match is very important for the team as wining it can further push up its title race, placing it neck to neck with Churchill Brothers.
Real Kashmir with a powerful defensive side has scored 16 goals, while Chennai, which has a strong attacking line, scored highest 31 goals so far in the league.
RKFC, expectedly, will be eyeing for a massive home crowd support since it is making a comeback after over-a-month long away tour.
The ‘Snow Leopards’, as they are locally known, however, will have to manage without its star players Abednego Kofi Tetteh, who is banned for two matches, and injured Gnohere Krizo and unfit defender Mason Robertson.
RKFC head Coach, David Robertson, during a pre-match press conference here on Sunday, said his team has to change its strategy by “being on upfront” to restrict the experienced Chennai strikers.
“Tomorrow’s game is tough and different for us as Chennai is currently the best and the most consistent team in the league. We will require playing more defensively against them,” he said.
Robertson said his team is well-versed with the style Chennai players play. “We will be pressure-free even in the absence of key players. “Krizo has been on bed for some time and Mason hasn’t trained. Kofi is suspended for two games. But our players are looking forward to create something to achieve three points from the match,” the Coach said.
Asked whether the team was looking forward to win the title, RKFC coach said his priority was to avoid relegation this year. “You can’t predict anything. But the point is that every win takes the team forward and losses push it back. We are looking forward to play good football. Let us see how and where we end,” he said.
Robertson said his team will have to be on the toes in order to face Chennai. “We can’t take Chennai easy just because they lost a game against us in Coimbatore. As per my experience, Chennai has the best movement and possession in every game. They may land up as champions as the team has quality players,” he said.
Chennai head coach Akbar Nawas said his team has already prepared itself in Tamil Nadu to play against RKFC in cold conditions.“We have many foreigners, who are used to such climate. Besides, prior to the start of the season, we stayed at Ooty to get acclimatised to low oxygen and cold conditions. I think the only people who will be suffering are coaches and players on the bench,” he said.
“Our Assistant Coach is a yoga expert who taught players how to acclimatise with rigorous yoga sessions ahead of the season,” the Chennai Coach said.
He said his team was looking forward to perform better instead of looking to bag the title.“We are not like Mohun Bagan or East Bengal, who have to win the matches. We are not even looking at the table. If my players lose a match but play competitively, I will be happy,” he said.
He rated RKFC as one of the best competitors in the league.“Kashmir last year won the second division and is showing consistency in this season as well. They are one of the contenders for the title as they have the best defensive side in the league. We have scored highest number of goals and Kashmir has conceded the least. So hopefully, it will be a good match to watch,” he said.