Chandigarh, October 30, 2018: In a battle of two champions, Real Kashmir FC, last season’s winners of the Second Division League, are all set to make their much anticipated debut in the Hero I-League as they take on defending champions and hosts Minerva Punjab FC at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula, Chandigarh on Wednesday, October 31, 2018. The game is scheduled for a 2 PM kick-off.
This will be Minerva’s second game of the 12th edition of the Hero I-League, after having drawn their first encounter against Goa’s Churchill Brothers 0-0 at the same venue. The side from the northern most state of India will be under the tutelage of former Aberdeen, Queens Park Rangers and Leeds United left-back and Scottish international David Robertson. In the battle between two British managers, Irishman Paul Munster will be at the helm for Minerva.
Robertson appeared raring to go while sharing his thoughts on match-day eve saying, “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.”
The hosts appeared rusty in their first outing against Churchill, although glimpses of the quality they posses did show up in the second half of the Churchill game when they exerted a sustained period of dominance but could not break through.
Nigerian Philip Njoku had a good game in midfield while Delhi boy Dilliram Sanyasi showed a lot of flair upon being brought in, in the second half, however their star striker from last season’s successful campaign, Ghanaian William Asiedu Opoku will look to up his game. The talented winger Nongdamba Naorem was also played in a somewhat withdrawn position and Sachin Bedhade and Coach Munster might look to get him more involved in the attacking third.
Real Kashmir go into the game with a run of four victories from their last five unbeaten competitive games. What will worry Minerva Punjab more is that Kashmir have scored 12 goals in their last five games while they have managed only five in the same number of previous matches.
The visitors had their pre-season in Dortmund in Germany and then they played around five games in Mumbai. Scottish Robertson seems to have maintained the nucleus of the side which won the second division title and has also fortified it a little more with some new signings.
Prominent among them would be his 24-year old son Mason Robertson at Centre-Back. He has also opted for height in attack with the 21-year old 6 ft 7 inches Ivorian striker Gnohere Krizo.
Captain Loveday Enyinnaya of Nigeria will add leadership and solidity in the defence. The local players who might turn out to be the hero are winger Shahnawaz Bashir and forward Ifham Tariq Mir, who scored in the title-decider of the second division last season against Hindustan FC.
The home side, however, will look to go all out to garner their first three points of the season to set their 12th Hero I-League campaign on the right track.
The match will kick-off at 2 PM and it’ll be broadcast live on Star Sports 2 and streamed live on HotStar and Jio TV.