HERO I-LEAGUE: Resurgent Real Kashmir face beleaguered Aizawl

Aizawl, January 10, 2019: Debutantes Real Kashmir would aim for the top as they face Aizawl FC in their 12th Hero I-League game at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Friday.

The contrast in fortunes of the two teams is apparent by the gulf in the points table. Kashmir are third while Aizawl are a rung above bottom in the 11-team league.

Aizawl have a new coach in Standley Rosario (he replaced Gift Raikhan who had resigned). Kashmir on the other hand haven’t had such issues as coach David Robertson looks confident about the team’s goals and objectives.

The debutantes have built their success on a sturdy defence and sound goalkeeping. They have cleverly used the available players with a few also being played out of position for the sake of the team.

The foreign recruits have also filled in the gaps.

The emphasis has been on fitness with youngsters shuffled around cleverly to get the job done.

Robertson, who put up a pragmatic front on the eve of the game said: “We come to play well in every game. As we are a new team in the league, its difficult for us to set our foot. As long as we do what we do, we shouldn’t have any issues but anything is possible here. We have started well and our aim is to stay in the league. For us, its more about enjoying the league.”

Aizawl on the other hand have been grossly inconsistent which eventually resulted in the departure of Raikhan.

Though Mapuia and David have showed promise still the foreign brigade — Kromah, Dodoz and Jaryan — has been average or below par. Team chemistry is also an issue.

Rosario will have the services of new recruit — Uganda’s Richard Kassaga in defence — their weak link (Aizawl has leaked in 18 goals so far — only second-best to Shillong).

Aizawl’s assistant coach Jonathan who attended the pregame press conference had this to say: “We will fight for three points as it is our home match and we don’t want to lose this game. Standley will arrive today and will be there for the practice. We will be planning the game strategy as it will be a challenging match for us. 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 ruled Ivorian striker Ansumanah Kromah out with injury.

Despite their good run none of Kashmir’s players (with 15 goals among themselves) feature in the top-five of the goalscorers’ list. But then the new players scoring has definitely worked wonders!

Bazie Armand’s is a classic case: after a winner against Aizawl in the first-leg he also scored in other games.

The odds are heavily in favor of the ‘Snow Leopards’ while Aizawl have a mountain to climb.

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