MUMBAI: In a crucial relegation battle in the Hero I-League, 11th-place Mumbai Kenkre FC will host 10th-place Rajasthan United FC at the Cooperage Stadium on Saturday, February 18, 2023, with the kick-off slated for 4:30 pm IST.

Mumbai Kenkre had a pretty disappointing outing in their previous game against bottom-side Sudeva Delhi, losing 1-3 on home soil. The Mumbaikars missed the chance to go within touching distance of their next opponents Rajasthan United, and are now four points below safety. However, Kenkre will get a big boost in their survival battle provided they beat the Desert Warriors on Saturday and cut the gap to a solitary point with just four more games to play after that.

Both Kenkre and Rajasthan are currently on a long winless streak, which could make for a feisty and desperate battle. While the hosts have failed to win any of their last four games, the streak stretches to six for the visitors.

Rather interestingly, the last win for both teams came against league leaders Sreenidi Deccan in January. While Mumbai Kenkre triumphed 2-1 at the Cooperage, Rajasthan United edged Sreenidi 1-0 in Delhi.

Addressing the media at the pre-match press conference, Mumbai Kenkre head coach Akhil Kothari said, “Our approach and intent is to progress. The players are training hard and the spirit in the dressing room is high. We just need a bit of luck.”

“Tomorrow, if we are able to get a better control of the game, we will be in a better situation.” the Indian added.

Being in the relegation scuffle is something no team wants, however, Kothari feels his men are up for the challenge and are confident of turning their season around. “The players are aware of the situation we are in and the challenge we will be facing. The attitude in training has been fantastic, and with a positive result tomorrow, I think we can turn things around.”

Pushpender Kundu’s Rajasthan United had victory snatched from them right at the death by Gokulam Kerala. After leading for almost the entire game, the Desert Warriors conceded twice in second-half injury time and were condemned to their sixth defeat on the trot. It was a similar story against Aizawl earlier this month when they conceded a 97th minute winner.

“They were all close contests, but that’s the beauty of the game. You never know what’s going to happen until the final whistle, and that has been bad for us,” said Kundu.

“The boys were close to winning those games but anyway, we learnt a lot from them, and we will do better tomorrow against Kenkre,” he added.

Kundu feels having many Mumbai players in his squad could help negate Kenkre’s home advantage. “It’s always an advantage for any team to play at home, but we already have 4-5 local lads who know the conditions well. So it will be a normal game for us, however, Kenkre have caused many upsets here, and we are taking them seriously,” he said.

The match between Mumbai Kenkre and Rajasthan United will be broadcasted live on Eurosport and Doordarshan Sports and streamed live on the Discovery Plus OTT platform at 4:30 pm IST.


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