Real Kashmir FC showed tremendous resilience to pull off a stunning 2-1 win over a spirited Sreenidi Deccan FC and win its second successive IFA Shield title here on Wednesday.
The David Robertson-coached side endured a below-par outing in the first half as the I-League debutant from Vizag dominated with its superior tactical and technical display and went ahead through a strike from Colombian centre-forward David Castaneda Munoz in the 30th minute.
Deccan FC staved off some valiant attacks by RKFC in the second half and but was undone by the Snow Leopards in the final three minutes of play. RKFC made a dramatic turnaround and banked on the dependable Spaniard and Scottish duo of Fran Gonzalez and Mason Lee Robertson, who struck one each to help their side to the title.
In the last edition too, RKFC had pulled off an identical 2-1 win over George Telegraph with its goalkeeper Mithun Samanta saving a penalty in the closing minutes.
The club's elated owner, Sandeep Chattoo, dedicated the win to the die-hard fans and supporters of RKFC in the valley. "The boys have made Kashmir proud. Indeed it's a glory that will bring lots and lots of cheers to the supporters of RKFC back in the valley," Chattoo told PTI .
"Three local boys were playing in the squad. It gives me immense pleasure and all kudos to the team for keeping the flag of Snow Leopards high and flying despite all odds.
A team as young as five years old has made history after a decade by clinching the IFA shield twice in a row. I would also like to thank coach David and must say that my belief in my coach is impeccable," he added.
Sreenidi Deccan FC, which was launched less than six months ago and recently joined the I-League, dominated the proceedings early on.
Attacking midfielder Girik Khosla set it up from the left as David tapped the ball brilliantly and turned it around to fire in a powerful right-footer to give Fernando Santiago Varela's side the early advantage and score his fourth goal of the tournament.
RKFC upped the ante in the second half but could not convert its chances with Thoi Singh missing two sitters in front of the goalmouth. In the 66th minute, Thoi squandered a fine opportunity when he was set up brilliantly by a Mason throw-in but his shot hit the upright.
Time was fast running out for RKFC with the match nearing second-half stoppage time as Sanchez brought up the equaliser in the 90+3rd minute to take the match into the extra time.
It was Mason who set it up with a clinical centre from the right as Sanchez chested the ball before shooting from an acute angle. In the 100th minute, Mason seized on a superbly connected centre from Pratesh Shirodkar and towered above his rival defender for a winning header.
Deccan FC tried its best and even brought in goalkeeper CK Ubaid into the attack in the dying minutes of the extra-time but RKFC defence held on.
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