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I-League : Relegation-threatened Mumbai Kenkre face an in-form Real Kashmir, Gokulam Kerala, TRAU aim to end season on high

With the I-League 2022-23 nearing its conclusion, Mumbai Kenkre, currently placed 11th and battling relegation, have travelled to Srinagar to take on Real Kashmir in a crucial game at the TRC Stadium on Thursday, March 2, 2023. The match will kick off at 2:00 pm IST.

After a win against heavyweights and title contenders Sreenidi Deccan in January, Mumbai Kenkre have gone on a winless streak of six games. Though they held leaders RoundGlass Punjab to a 3-3 draw during this run, it hasn’t helped their cause as they remain in the drop zone. Needless to say, any further slip by the Mumbai side would make survival even more difficult for them. Their Thursday’s opponents Real Kashmir have not lost in their last five games.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Mumbai Kenkre head coach Akhil Kothari emphasised the importance of the match for the club. “We are aware of our situation and the challenge that we will face in Kashmir,” he said. “The attitude of the players has been fantastic, and I think we are going to work hard to get the maximum points tomorrow,” Kothari added.

Real Kashmir technical director Gifton Noel-Williams acknowledged the tough challenge that could be posed by Mumbai Kenkre. He said, “Even though Kenkre are one of the bottom sides, they have many good players and play good football. If we are not at our best, they can beat us. We will play our game, move the ball around and make things difficult for Kenkre.”

Real Kashmir secured only their second away win of the season in their previous game against TRAU, and Noel-Williams attributes the victory to a more consistent approach from his side in recent games. He said, “Home or away, it is the three points that matter. We approach each game in a similar way. Against TRAU, we started quick, they had many good players but we made sure they didn’t play well and I think we did a good job.”

This will be Real Kashmir’s last home game of the season, and Noel-Williams hopes to win it for the fans. “I hope we will get many fans in the stadium tomorrow. It is our last home game of the season and the players will give their hundred percent to win it for all the supporters,” the Englishman said.

Likewise, for the fans of Mumbai Kenkre, Kothari said, “To all the people watching us, who have backed us through all the difficult challenges in the past, I hope we will have your support tomorrow as well.”

The match between Real Kashmir and Mumbai Kenkre will be telecast live on Eurosport and Doordarshan Sports and streamed live on the Discovery Plus OTT platform at 2 pm IST.

Gokulam Kerala, TRAU aim to end campaign on a positive note

It’s a battle between third and fifth in the I-League as TRAU FC take on Gokulam Kerala FC at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Thursday, March 2, 2023.

With just three matches to go and the difference with table-toppers RoundGlass Punjab already into double figures, Gokulam Kerala’s dreams of winning the I-League title three times in a row are over.

However, coach Anthony Andrew is just looking to end on a high. “The atmosphere in the dressing room is good as we have picked up six points in the last two matches. So we just want to win these last three matches and finish on a good note,” he said at the pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

“It’s TRAU’s home game and they lost the last match, so I’m sure they’ll come hard at us,” he added.

They have never played badly in this season of the I-League but dropped points at crucial junctures against lowly-placed teams like Mumbai Kenkre and Mohammedan Sporting. That has hurt their cause. One of the main reasons behind that has been their tendency to waste scoring opportunities. Sergio Mendigutxia has not been as accurate as he would like to be. Nor have been Eldar Moldozhunusov or Indian forwards VS Sreekuttan, Rahul Raju et al. However, since losing to Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata on January 12, Gokulam have won two matches on the trot, scoring six goals. Both Mendi and Raju scored in the last match against Aizawl FC. That should give them some confidence against TRAU.