Rajasthan United FC will take on Real Kashmir FC in their second game of the I-League at the TRC Stadium here on Saturday.
The game will see the return of football to the Valley after two years of Covid protocols. Tickets for the game have already been sold out and an estimated 14,000 fans are expected to attend.
The two teams have both made winning starts to their campaigns, Rajasthan beating Churchill Brothers in Goa and Real Kashmir beating Neroca FC in Imphal. Led by two young Indian managers, the game promises to be a tough contest.
The Rajasthan United team conducted its final training session in 2 degrees temperature and the general feeling in the camp – despite the drastic change in conditions after their opener in Goa three days back – is of comfort.
Speaking about the change in conditions coach Pushpender Kundu said that while it was a challenge he was confident that the team would adapt and find a way. “My boys are warriors and they will find a way to block all of this out. It is also the beauty of the I-League that teams have to play in these different conditions.”
Rajasthan United also boasts of a player who played for Real Kashmir last season – Ragav Gupta. Gupta who hails from Jammu, has quickly established himself as an important presence in the team. “I will be seeing a lot of my friends across the pitch. My job as a professional requires me to be my best for my current team. And I will not disappoint the coach or my teammates.”
At the team’s final training session, the players were met by Kashmir and a Indian football legend Md Yousuf Dar and his son Sajid Dar. Md Yousuf Dar, played for Mohammedan Sporting between 1962-73 and is the first Kashmiri footballer to represent India at the senior level, doing so in 1978-79. His son Sajid Dar is one of the foremost coaching minds in the country, has been the head coach of the women’s national team and is responsible for much of Kashmir’s football’s resurgence.
“It is great to see a club from Rajasthan come to Kashmir,” Yousuf Dar said. “The state used to host very prestigious tournaments that I have also played in. Footballers must remember that your off pitch character determines your on pitch character. Build both to the highest standards. I wish all the players the best and have no doubt they will give the fans a treat.”