I-League 2018-19, Minerva Punjab FC vs Real Kashmir FC: 5 talking points as Kashmir makes history
October 31, which is actually Halloween, is a red-letter day for the state of Jammu and Kashmir and Indian football as Real Kashmir managed to beat defending champions Minerva Punjab in their first I-League ever, at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula.
Gnohere Krizo's 74th-minute strike gave David Robertson's team all three points against Paul Munster's boys.
Minerva Punjab, who drew their opening game against Churchill Brothers, suffered due to the inefficiency of their strikers and conservative approach to the game. They have just one point in two games.
Even though Real Kashmir were the ones who played defensively, the visitors came with a plan and were happy to snatch one point from the game.
But as things panned out, they walked away with three instead, teaching Punjab a lesson in their first I-League game itself.
#1 Kashmir makes its presence felt in India's top division
This game marked Real Kashmir's first game in the I-League and they really made their presence felt in the Indian footballing community by stunning the defending champions Minerva Punjab.
With only two players from J&K (Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Ishfaq Ahmed) making it big so far, it is a breath of fresh air that there's a club from that state playing in the top flight.
Wadoo is the only one from Kashmir to have gone on to represent the Indian national football team, while Ishfaq Ahmed turned out for Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL).
What's more, most of the Indian players in the squad hail from that state and it's comforting to see that they were all given playing chances in the I-League.
Muhammad Hammad is a Kashmiri who started for RKFC. The other Kashmiris on the line-up were Farhan Ganie and Danish Farooq.
Before the game, RKFC coach David Robertson said the prospect of playing the defending champions in their first I-League game was exciting and quite unexpectedly, Real Kashmir proved to be the better team on the day.
“We have been waiting for five months for this day to come. We are very excited to face the defending champions as well as we have to remember of the home ground advantage they have. We have a young and confident team with experienced players as well as some local Kashmiri who have played in I-League before," Robertson had said.