All is well, say Real Kashmir
Real Kashmir FC coach David Robertson and player Khalid Qayoom have good things to say about the situation back ‘home’.
In town for their first match of the 2019-20 I-League against East Bengal — to be played at Kalyani on Wednesday — the Scottish coach on Monday said: “To be frank, our preparation has been better than last year’s. No issues for us as a team and we have the same motivation like we had last season.”
Prodded to speak from a foreigner’s perspective, Robertson said: “I’m not qualified to say a lot. I have been in Kashmir for three years. I have enjoyed my every second in Kashmir. I am here as a coach of a football team and continue to lead the success of Real Kashmir. If you ask me, I’m only interested about RKFC and nothing else.”
“Everyone should remember this team is known for rising against the odds.”
Qayum echoed his coach’s view, though he admitted at times the players were finding it difficult to stay focussed.
“For the first two months, yes, it was difficult. But the next two months have been good. We have not seen anything unusual. We have trained at the main ground (TRC Ground). Situation ka koi affect nahi hain. But yes, the concentration level gets a little affected, but we must take it as professionals. Sometimes you have to deal with such things.”
The abrogation of Article 370 happened on August 5 and RKFC came to play Durand Cup in Kalyani within a few days. They lost in the semi-finals to Mohun Bagan. After that they were on the road playing some pre-season friendlies. “It’s been four months. The longest pre-season I have had, longer than the actual season itself,” Robertson joked.
“We have played a few ISL teams. Our preparation has been better than what we had last year. Hopefully, it will show, let’s see.
Talking about their Wednesday’s rivals, Robertson said: “A match against East Bengal in their own den would be the toughest start for us. I personally feel East Bengal were one of the best, if not the best, teams last year. They have a very good coach in Alejandro Menendez Garcia. So we know we’ll have a tough game.”
Real Kashmir finished third in the last edition and Robertson believes that expectations would be high this time around. “Probably for the first time in the club’s history... Especially after finishing third in the last edition, expectations would be high not just for ourselves but for the team owners and supporters as well.
“We are no longer the new kids on the block. So there will be more pressure on us. If we can defend the way we defended last season and if we are more clinical in front of the goal, then we have a very good chance of bettering our last season’s performance.”