Dark horses TRAU face Real Kashmir in their run to catch up with leaders Churchill Brothers in the second match week of phase-II of the I-League here at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium on Wednesday.
TRAU’s Komron Tursunov scripted history by scoring the fastest goal ever of the Hero I-League in the ninth second when they met Real Kashmir back in match week 1. The Tajik’s strike was cancelled out by Mason Robertson’s 70th-minute header as both teams shared a point each. With Churchill Brothers racing towards the title, both sides will be motivated to get all three points in the title race from the reverse fixture.
From being unbeaten throughout the first nine games of the season, Real Kashmir find themselves on the cusp of falling out of the title race after they were beaten by Churchill Brothers in the opening game of phase-II. The Snow Leopards now find themselves in fifth spot with 17 points from 11 games and they need nothing short of three points against the TRAU in order to revive their title claim.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, assistant coach James Lindsay said, “We were very unlucky. We played very well in the second half, a few things went our way, and a few did not. We fought until the final whistle trying to win the match, but we were hit on the counter. Overall, we were very pleased with the performance the team put in.”
“When we have fallen, we have always come back owing to our team spirit. We have already played TRAU once this season – they scored very early, but we fought back for a point. This time around we want to win against them, get the three points and move on to the next challenge,” the assistant coach added.
Midfielder Abhash Thapa, “We have been unlucky despite playing well in a few games like Sudeva, Churchill. We are motivated to prove ourselves every time we step on the field. We have four more games, and it is very important to continue playing as a team. We want to prove that we were beaten, but are not down, and will come back stronger.”
Meanwhile, TRAU are riding high after Bidyashagar Singh’s hat-trick helped them cruise past Mohammedan SC 4-0 in the previous match week. Despite being on a three-match winning streak, the Red Pythons trail leaders Churchill Brothers by seven points as they sit in third place with 19 points from 11 games. Nandakumar Singh’s side will look to build on their positive streak by beating Kashmir and close the gap at the top of the Hero I-League.
Speaking at the official pre-match press conference, head coach Nandakumar said, “We have been in some good form. The training is happening in full swing. All players are enthusiastic and enjoying the sessions. The team is in a good mood after three wins on the trot, and are looking forward to playing some good football against Kashmir.”
“We are a young team and have immense potential. We have been prolific in scoring goals, but defensively there have been few mistakes. I am satisfied with what we have achieved and am not thinking about whether we can win the title. The boys played brilliantly against Mohammedan – the result was beyond my expectation. The team needs to build on this momentum.”
Young goalkeeper Amrit Gope said, “This is my first season in the Hero I-League, and it has been a good experience until now. The coach, senior players, and staff have all been supportive. We are in a positive mindset and have prepared well for the next game. Tomorrow is a good opportunity for us to better ourselves from the previous result.”