Real Kashmir set semi-final date with local giants Mohun Bagan
Kalyani (West Bengal): Continuing their fairytale run, Real Kashmir FC put up yet another dogged display holding ISL club FC Goa to a goalless draw, setting up a semi-final date with local giants Mohun Bagan in the 129th Durand Cup here on Saturday.
Both teams created a flurry chances on a soggy surface which wasn't conducive for good football but none managed to open their account. Real Kashmir however needed a draw to enter last four and they topped group C with seven points — two wins and a draw.
On a day of missed chances, Real Kashmir's 21-year-old goalkeeper from Phurba Tempa Lachenpa was the star as he thwarted some fine chances from the developmental outfit of the Indian Super League.
The David Robertson-coached side will face Mohun Bagan in the semifinals at the Salt Lake Stadium on August 21, seven months after they defeated local heavyweights 2-1 at the same venue finishing third in the I-League.
"We don't want to involve politics but this win is for the family members back home and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We all are excited to make the semifinals. We all have celebrated with great fervour," an elated Real Kashmir manager Yasir Malik told PTI.
Fighting all odds back home after the Centre revoked Article 370, the Real Kashmir squad assembled for the first time this season at their team hotel in Kalyani, about 60 kilometres from Kolkata.
With a lockdown in the Valley, the team was devoid of any practice and the worse was in store as the team members from the region could not reach out to their respective families with the imposition of section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as the state, which will now be bifurcated into two Union Territories, remained on the edge.
It was only on the Eid when the team members managed to speak to their family via team co-owner Sandeep Chattoo's phone.
"Everyone is fine back home and players are a bit relaxed after talking to their family members. But network has not restored fully. We all stay in far-off places and nobody's phone network is restored," he said.
He said the players were a bit relaxed after talking to their respective families.
"We all have come to play here. Our motto is to win the Durand Cup and that's it. But they are a bit relaxed now."
On facing Mohun Bagan at Salt Lake Stadium twice in seven months, he said: "We are confident. We have played with them and beaten them 2-1. Now we will see them on the ground. The team who will play well will win."
"This is our pre-season tournament as only here the team assembled and trained for the first time. The coach is watching everyone's performance and it's for the boys to prove themselves ahead of the long gruelling season."
The team manager
blamed the ground condition for not able to score a winning goals.