Real Kashmir start I-League with stellar win over defending champions Minerva
Debutants Real Kashmir FC not only managed to soak up the pressure but also sneaked in a goal against the run of play to start their I-League campaign with a 1-0 win against defending champions Minerva Punjab FC at Tau Devi Lal Stadium here on Wednesday.
Real Kashmir held their own against a sustained attack from Minerva, who after a dull draw against Churchill Brothers in their opening game started on a proactive note.
Ivory Coast’s Kouame Kouassi Alexandre started along with William Opoku at the front and caused trouble for Real Kashmir immediately. Alexandre managed to break free of his marker in the 11th minute but his weak shot was easily handled by Kashmir’s custodian Bilal Husain Khan. Bilal went on to make numerous crucial saves to deny Minerva and was adjudged player of the match.
Knowing well that Minerva will go on an all out attack, Real Kashmir coach David Robertson lined up the defence tightly. He had his son Mason Robertson, along with Goan Brian Mascarenhas and Muhammad Hammad manning his defence with 6 ft 7 inches Ivorian Gnohere Krizo as the lone striker upfront.
As Minerva fluffed chances after chances with forwards failing to link up, Real Kashmir managed to catch the defending champions’ defence off guard on few occasions.
Krizo managed to lay the ball perfectly at the feet of Zambia’s Aaron Katebe just outside the circle but found Minerva custodian Bhaskar Roy up to the challenge.
Minerva again had a flurry of chances at the start of the second half but failed to get past Bilal. In the first half, Alexandre’s powerful shot from inside the box was tipped over by Bilal and hit the bar and a minute later Opoku’s powerful drive from outside the box brought another save.
As frustrated Minerva pushed hard, Krizo sneaked in a goal in the 74th minute much to the delight of the debutants. Krizo collected the ball inside Minerva’s goal box off a free kick and turned and fired one past the Minerva custodian Roy.
Thereafter, the debutants did well to soak up the pressure and registered a win in their opening match, while for Minerva their lack finishing at the front will mean the team gets back to drawing broad before they travel for their next match against Aizawl FC on November 10.
“We should have been three or four goals up. But not only their keeper did well, we also lacked the finishing touch. It happens in football when a team fails to take their chances,” Minerva Irish coach Paul Munster said.
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