I-League: Real Kashmir beat table topper Chennai second time to remain in title hunt
Srinagar, Jan 28: History repeated itself on Monday when Real Kashmir FC trumped table topper Chennai City FC second time in a crucial game here at TRC stadium by 1:0 to keep itself in the title contention.
RKFC, which last week culminated its unbeaten first phase of away games, continued its winning momentum at home as well proving that their first win against heavyweights Chennai FC in December was not a fluke.
Real Kashmir had defeated Chennai with the same margin in the first leg in Coimbatore in December last.
With Monday’s win, Real Kashmir joined Churchill Brothers at second spot with 28 points each from 14 matches. Chennai are still on top of the league table with 30 points from 14 matches.
Donned in yellow jerseys with snowy Zabarwan mountains in the background, the players stood out amid thousands of the spectators, who braved bone chilling cold to cheer for the native team.
The match started at 2 pm and saw an immense domination from the host team against the visitors, who had to deal with a lot of shots taken at their goal. During the first half, both the teams failed to score a goal as all the chances were equally neutralised by the powerful defense of the teams. The two teams were locked in an intense midfield battle with Chennai clearly struggling to find the rhythm in the opening minutes. Spanish footballer Sandro Rodriguez could have drawn first blood from a set-piece but his effort went straight to Bilal’s gloves. Kashmir also had their share of chances in the first half but they could not make the most of those. Krizo found himself in a one-on-one situation with Nauset Sanatana on the 34th minute but could not score past the keeper. Zambain defender for Kashmir team Aaron Katebe has a chance to net the ball when he timed his jump to head a flag-kick but his header sailed a few inches above the cross bar. It was in the 83rd minute of the game Ivorian striker Gnohere Krizo headed home a cross floated in by Danish Farooq from the right flank. The goal was enough to send the crowd into wild celebrations, who in excitement ceased to sit on the iron benches for minutes together. On the eastern side of the stadium, a rhythmic cheer followed with many among them posing a victory sign in front of photographers who were covering the match. Finally, after three extra minutes, the ultimate whistle blew, which declared RKFC victorious. Real Kashmir had defeated Chennai with the same margin in the first leg in Coimbatore in December last. With Monday’s win, Real Kashmir joined Churchill Brothers at second spot with 28 points each from 14 matches. Chennai are still on top of the league table with 30 points from 14 matches. RKFC will next travel to Goa to take on Churchill Brothers whereas Chennai City will continue their journey on the road as they will next face Indian Arrows on February 8. Post-match, the celebration followed for nearly half an hour as players walked round the playground to thank the spectators. Many ecstatic spectators were eagerly waiting outside the playground to click selfies with the team. RKFC head coach, David Robertson said the win was important for his team adding the upcoming match with Churchill Brothers is equally crucial for them. “We beat Chennai in their home town and here as well, which is entirely a good feeling for the team. We had lot of chances but couldn’t make it. I personally feel Chennai is the best team despite that we beat them twice,” he said. Meanwhile, CCFC head coach Akbar Nawas blamed that “many decisions by referees went against them during the match.” “We are not looking for the title but many decisions in the match went against us. I appeal the AIFF to watch the match,” he said. Nawas praised the defensive side of RKFC, particularly the performances of its players in the game. “They had many corner kicks and defense was too strong,” he said.