The new season of the I-League began on 26th December, and Real Kashmir’s first game of the season is on 27th December. After a commendable pre-season where they played Durand Cup and IFA Shield. With winning and defending their title for the second year in the latter competition, the side from Kashmir are high on confidence and is hoping to perform well this season after finishing 3rd in the regular season and 5th in the championship round last year.
Team’s target for the upcoming season
“No, it’s the same with each game. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. All the other teams are signing quality players, and the league is getting longer and becoming stronger every year. So we just hope that we give a good fight of ourselves, but in this league like every team is capable of beating any team or their day. So it’s a very tight league but, I think we are well equipped, and we have a deeper squad than we had last year, so all being said, let’s hope for the best and aim higher.”
Thoughts on the match against Aizawl FC
“Aizawl is a tough side to face, and they have been successful in the past. They have a good coach in Yan Law. But just like every game in the league, there is no game easy game, and anything can happen. But I think we have unity in our squad, and we have some good quality players, and now we have to make sure these players are available and can perform their best in the next games.”
On the club’s decision to retain players and coaching staff
“Well, I think it is very important, and I know the trend in India is if a team have 2-3 bad results, the coach is changed. So, I think having consistency in the squad in terms of players and the coaching staff does help. In our club, it’s my decision about which players we shall sign and which players will be selected in the squad, unlike other clubs. I think it’s the reason why the club has been stable and successful over the years since it was founded five years ago from scratch. But at some point, the club needs to take the next step and challenge for the title, and someday it will happen either with me or someone else in charge.”
On improvement in the standard of the league and the Indian players
“Yeah, I think each year the standard of Indian players gets better. You can see how many players move from the ISL to the I-League every year. With the new rules of having a couple of U22 players in the squad and the reduction in the number of foreign players that can be fielded, it gives more chances and opportunities for the Indian players to perform. I think these rules will help in producing better Indian players in central areas as most teams prefer to have two Indian strikers generally. I think Indian players are getting better, and with that, the quality of the league is also increasing.“
On the present squad and how much it changed from last season
“Yeah, I think this season we have one of the best squads Real Kashmir has ever had. So we are looking forward to playing well. Everybody is pretty confident, and in each position, we have players who can perform without other players. So obviously, the players in the team or the ones who are on the bench, everyone is doing great in training and performed well in the pre-season. Hopefully, we can make something out of this squad and help in getting good results for Real Kashmir FC.”
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