I-League: Aizawl FC to host in-form Real Kashmir FC

A win for Real Kashmir, the I-League debutant, will allow it to be equal on points with table-topper Chennai City FC.

David Robertson, the Real Kashmir head coach, has made Real Kashmir stand out in its debut I-League season.   -  Nissar Ahmad

Real Kashmir FC will aim to grab a win to be equal on points with table-topper Chennai City FC, when it takes on Aizawl FC here in an I-League contest on Friday.

The two teams have had contrasting campaigns this season, as illustrated well by the gulf between them in the points table. Real Kashmir lies third, while Aizawl FC languishes in the 10th place.

Owing to a string of less-than-desired results, the host has a new coach — Stanley Rosario — appointed in place of Gift Raikhan.

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On the other hand, David Robertson, the Real Kashmir coach, has never looked more certain of his role. The Srinagar-based team has been strong in its debut season. It has been built on the foundations of a sturdy defence and a strong goalkeeper. Available local resources have been used cleverly, and foreign recruits have been employed for crucial positions.

‘Anything is possible’

The focus has been to make the best use of fit and young players, and all have been shuffled around cleverly to get optimum results. “We come to play well in every game. As we are a new team in the league, it’s difficult for us to set our foot. As long as we do what we do, we should not have any issues but anything is possible here. We have started well and our aim is to stay in the league. For us, it’s more about enjoying the league,” Robertson, a Scotsman, said at the press conference ahead of the contest.

Stanley Rosario is Aizawl FC's new head coach. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar

 

Aizawl, the 2016-17 I-League champion, also has good players. Mapuia and David, the Indians, and Kromah, Dodoz and Jaryan, the foreign recruits, have been producing decent performances, but somehow the team has not been able to gel well.

Rosario will have the services of Richard Kassaga, a new recruit, to bolster his defence. It remains to be seen how much difference he is able to make, as defence has been Aizawl’s weakest link — the team has conceded 18 goals in the competition so far. Only Shillong Lajong has leaked more.

‘Challenging match’

“We will fight for three points as it is our home match and we don’t want to lose this game. Stanley will arrive [on Thursday] and will be there for the practice. We will be planning the game strategy as it will be a challenging match for us,” assistant coach Jonathan said.

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“Real Kashmir are high on scoring and there defence and passing are strong. Our players are also motivated and we will be giving our best,” he declared.

Aizawl will have to do without striker Ansumanah Kromah; Rosario announced he has been ruled out due to injury.

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