It was a chilly Sunday morning, where 11,500 Kashmiri spectators watched the match against Mohun Bagan with full enthusiasm and cheer. Several female fans were seen cheering RKFC, local heroes like Danish Farooq. It was a packed stadium in Srinagar on the first Sunday of 2020 where temperature dipped to 1 degree and people of every age group came and cheered for the snow leopards. People were queuing up for entry into the stadium since 9 O’clock in the morning and still some of them could not make it to the match.
Fans lined up in queues outside to stadium to see their heroes in action even as temperatures had fallen to almost freezing levels.
In a thrilling encounter which followed, Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan regained top spot in the I-League as they cruised past Real Kashmir Football Club with a 2-0 victory.
RKFC co-founder Sandeep Chattoo was also optimistic about upcoming matches and said, “Definitely Mohan Bagan played a good game but I am quite confident that RKFC won hearts of its fans in Kashmir. Every match is lesson for us to improve further and I am sure we have learnt our lessons”.
RKFC coach, David Robertson also expressed his thoughts and opined, “I am happy with my boys. We played a good game. They scored two goals and we didn’t. We lost our focus for five minutes against a team like Mohun Bagan and they capitalized on it. It’s just these fine margins of football. I am just disappointed”.
Both the teams were all squared at the end of the first half with Mohun Bagan AC dominating the game in terms of possession. However, the visitors levelled up in the second half and found the net twice in four minutes.
Mohun Bagan central midfielder Joseba Beitia scored the first goal of the game in the 71st-minute and gave the lead to the club by a strike from inside the box. Nongdamba Naorem doubled the lead just after 3 minutes of the first goal as he converted a low cross from the right flank.
The visitors successfully picked up three points against the Snow Leopards which helped them regain the top spot in the I-League with 10 points while Real Kashmir are at No. 7 spot with 5 points.
Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar was also present during the match.
It’s heartening to see the popularity of the game and response of the people for the RKFC as well as the game. Football emerged as the winner at the end of the game,” Choudhary said.
Mohun Bagan coach, Kibu Vicuna expressed his joy after winning the match and said “We won against a tough opponent, but it was not out best match. Real Kashmir were going with their set piece, but we played better football against Churchill brothers. Today we played good football, and copped with the difficulties of conditions.”