Real Kashmir’s home stretch gets arduous as they prepare to face East Bengal in Delhi. - SportsGuru

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Real Kashmir’s home stretch gets arduous as they prepare to face East Bengal in Delhi.

Obviously it’s tough for any team. We were expecting to play before our home crowd and because of the current situation, we have had to move to Delhi. The players are also affected by these things. After Bhubaneswar we didn’t even get time to go back home.

Real Kashmir co-owner Shamim Meraj explains the trials and tribulations as the I-League debutants bid to end their fairytale season on a perfect note. Last season’s champions Minerva Punjab have already refused to travel to Srinagar citing security concerns and the All India Football Federation has still to take a final call on the matter. And now, their final home match of the term – against fellow title contenders East Bengal — has been shifted to the national capital.

Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are two teams that people in Kashmir wanted to watch the most as they have heard a lot about them over the years. It is unfortunate that they won’t be getting to see the latter play, coach David Robertson said.

We have to win all our three matches. But still it is unlikely that Chennai City will drop four points in two games. It’s a long shot, Robertson said. But it’s been a fantastic journey and we have exceeded expectations, remaining unbeaten away from home till now. We hope the streak continues tomorrow. At the start of the season, we were aiming to get as many points as possible to be as far from the relegation battle as we could.

But the Scot, who has been at the helm of the club for two years now, is more impressed at how the players are going about their business in a situation that’s anything but normal.

They have been really adaptable and professional, and have kept their excitement up throughout the campaign. There have been power cuts, extreme weather conditions (we played against Gokulam Kerala at home when the temperature was something around -2 degrees), and uncertainty around our matches. We still have no idea about what will happen to the Minerva match. The players have got used to Playstation and use it to unwind,” the burly coach told The Indian Express.

The news from Kashmir going out to the wider world these days tends to be quite alarming, but Robertson says his own family is not that worried. My son Mason plays for Real Kashmir under me. My wife and would-be daughter-in-law are coming here soon as is my own daughter. Ask him if has learnt any Kashmiri and Robertson replied: Only a few bad words.

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