In quest of their first victory of the ongoing I-League season, Manipurs Neroca FC will take on debutants Real Kashmir FC at the TRC ground here on Sunday.
Neroca have so far drawn two and lost one till now while the home side won their opening encounter against Minerva Punjab FC before drawing their second game against Churchill at the same venue. A win on Sunday will draw the debutants level on points with table toppers Chennai City FC.
Real Kashmir’s Scottish coach David Robertson will rue the fact that his team could not pull off a win at home in their previous game, despite their opponents playing with 10 men for the entire second half.
An over-dependence on Ivorian striker Gnohere Krizo, who netted the winner against Minerva, to score was observed and Robertson might look to correct that.
Kashmir’s four-man back line led by the coach’s son Mason Robertson and captain Loveday Okechukwu looked dependable but more impetus needs to come from the midfield where the likes of Zambian Aaron Katebe and Ivorian Bazie Armand will have to return better shifts.
Goalkeeper Bilal has kept a clean sheet till now and has brought about some very good saves, which would be handy against an attack-minded Neroca side.
David Robertson, sharing his thoughts on match-day eve, said: “We are excited for Sunday. It will be a new experience, a new challenge and a tough game. Our players are confident facing a new team all over again.”
“There is no pressure but we want to make sure we don’t disappoint our spectators. We are a hard-working team overall, and I have full faith on my team to give their best on the pitch,” he added.
Neroca’s worries are stemming from a misfiring forward line and the only goal they have scored so far in the campaign has come from central defender Eduardo Ferriera of Brazil, who missed their previous game against Aizawl after picking up an injury in warm up.
Singham Subash Singh who scored four times in their debut campaign last year has lost his place in the starting eleven and Nigerian Felix Chidi who had seven goals last year has also not opened his account this season.
It remains to be seen if inspirational winger Katsumi Yusa of Japan, who also went out with an injury in the opener against East Bengal and Eduardo are fit and back for service come Sunday.
Speaking before the game, Neroca head coach Manuel Fraile said: “We want three points from Kashmir, that’s more important for us. We have time to improve our mistakes. My team is working good and we will look forward to score goals. It’s cold here but that’s not an issue for us.”
“We have to be focused on our game plan. We will enjoy the game and we hope we have a good crowd tomorrow, for us as well as for the home side,” he added.