Real Kashmir takes on Minerva Punjab in I-League debut

The Second Division champion will face the might of the I-League defending champion in Chandigarh on Wednesday.

David Robertson... “We are very excited to face the defending champions.”   -  Nissar Ahmad

Real Kashmir FC begins its maiden I-League sojourn when it takes on Minerva Punjab FC at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula, Chandigarh on Wednesday.

As the Second Division champion last season, Kashmir qualified to participate in the 12th edition of the I-League. Coach David Robertson was eager to make its presence felt on the new platform. Sharing his thoughts on the eve of the contest, Robertson said, “We have been waiting for five months for this day to come. We are very excited to face the defending champions as well as we have to remember of the home ground advantage they have. We have a young and confident team with experienced players as well as some local Kashmiri who have played in I-League before.”

Eyes on Opoku

For Punjab, it will be its second match in the league this season. At the same venue, it played out a 0-0 draw against Churchill Brothers on Sunday. Nigeria’s Philip Njoku had a good game in midfield and Dilliram Sanyasi showed a lot of flair upon being brought in, in the second half. However, Ghanaian William Asiedu Opoku, its star striker from last season, had an indifferent outing.

Opoku will look to make more impact against Kashmir, which comes into the contest having scored 12 goals in the last five matches and having collected four victories.

Nucleus intact

Robertson has maintained the nucleus of the Kashmir side that enjoyed a successful Second Division campaign, and added a few new signings which include his own son Mason Robertson (a centre-back) and Ivorian striker Gnohere Krizo.

Captain Loveday Enyinnaya of Nigeria will add leadership and solidity in the defence. Winger Shahnawaz Bashir and forward Ifham Tariq Mir, who scored in the title-decider of the second division last season against Hindustan FC, will be two local players to look out for.

The team will be geared up for its new challenge, after its pre-season training in Dortmund, Germany, and in Mumbai.

The contest begins at 2 p.m.