Srinagar, Dec 5: Hopes rekindled in the valley’s football fans, as Real Kashmir Football Club on Wednesday bounced back in the I-League with their third win. They defeated former champions Aizawal FC 1:0.
Like in their previous game against Indian Arrows, Snow leopards overpowered their opponents on the ground before the fans numbering in thousands.
With this win, Real Kashmir FC (RKFC), the first football club from the valley to attain to play prestigious I- League, jumped to fourth position in the league with 10 points.
Ever since the game started, the enthusiasm of the crowd ceased to slow down.
Ecstatic football freaks all over the stadium jumped in jubilation when Real Kashmir FC’s Nagen Tamang got a chance to hit the football into the goal post.
For the match, Head Coach David Robertson made a bold decision to choose new recruit Abed Kofi Tetteh in place of Aaron Katebe to add more firepower in the attacking department.
Similarly, Aizawal FC Head Coach, Gift Raikhan, replaced Joe Zoherliana in deep defense with Nigerian Kareem Nurain, who made a comeback after an injury lay-off.
The hosts began the game on an attacking note when Nagen Tamang floated a delightful cross from the flanks towards the far post for Surchandra Singh, but the latter could only find the side-netting from close range.
Aizawl had an equal chance in the 25th minute when midfielder Albert Zohmingmawia’s cross from the right was blocked by Real Kashmir FC Goalkeeper Bilal Khan.
Real Kashmir FC did not have to wait long for their eventual winner when Bazie Armand rose the tallest inside the six-yard box to get his head to a corner floated in by midfielder Surchandra Singh.
Aizwala FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Chahal failed to punch away and Paul Ramfangzauva could not time his jump to prevent Armand from heading the ball.
Aizawl started to show more urgency after falling behind but was not able to produce the final ball, which could trouble the hosts.
An equal show was displayed by host’s Mason Robertson and captain Loveday Okechukwu as who kept Aizwal FC’s Leonce Dodoz and Ansumana Kromah at bay for the entire opening 45 minutes.
For the home side, Krizo got some of the chances in the second half particularly two free-headers, one off a cross from Kofi and another in the 82nd minute off a free-kick, which he missed to their marks.
Aizwal FC in the second half got a few chances especially in 86th minute of the game when the net was empty.
Additional five minutes were given in which both the teams unsuccessfully attempted to score goals.
For several minutes after the match, the winning team stayed in the ground to thank the spectators for their support.
Soon after the match was called off, ecstatic football fans cheered up for the winning team amid noise of fire crackers and pom-pom.
A standing ovation was given to the Man of the Match, Bazie Armand, by the spectators.
“We knew that Real Kashmir FC will win the match. They have performed well in the previous matches as well but results were good now,” said Muhammad Amin a football fan who had come from Baramulla to watch the game.
David Robertson said the performances throughout the league so far has depicted the strength of the team.
“We missed something in the earlier stages. Now Kofi’s entry has yielded results today. We played better and equally defended in the second half. I think we deserved the win,” he said.
Robertson said the support of the home crowd equally boosted his players to perform better.
Aizawal FC Head Coach, Gift Raikhan, said his team couldn’t convert some of the open chances into goals.
“Result was not good today though we played good football. There were some open chances for us, but Real Kashmir FC played fantastically well. They played long goals which benefitted them,” he said.