Giant-slayer Real Kashmir FC is in with a chance to go top of the points table if it secures a win over second-placed Churchill Brothers in its I-League clash Thursday.
Both teams shared the spoils in the first-leg match at the TRC stadium in Srinagar, with the game ending in a 0-0 stalemate.
Churchill and Kashmir are tied on 28 points after 14 matches but the home team is ahead on the back of a better goal difference.
Debutant Real Kashmir has proven to be quite dogged defensively and has not tasted defeat in the last couple of months owing to clever strategic switches in the team brought about by its Scottish coach David Robertson.
The side will, however, miss the services of Ivorian Gnohere Krizo, who scored the winner in the last game against table-topper Chennai and has been an important influence in its attack.
On being asked about Krizo, Robertson said, “Krizo has been suspended so it can affect the game.”
“In our last match, we overpowered Chennai but tomorrow’s game will be difficult. We are focusing on one game at a time. Churchill is a good team to play against. The next six matches will be difficult as all the top teams are good,” he added.
That second win over Chennai by Kashmir has thrown the title race wide open. Kashmir has conceded only seven goals so far, with eight clean sheets.
It is the best defensive side in the league and it has proven that again and again.
Churchill Brothers, on the other hand, has impressed one and all with its relentless attacking displays and as a result, it is set up for a cracker at the Tilak Maidan.
Churchill, aspiring for a third Hero I-League triumph, is at its best this season, having been beaten only twice. It has won eight matches and drawn four.
Churchill has scored 26 goals this season and is the second highest goal-scoring team after Chennai City FC, which leads with 31 goals.
According to Churchill Brothers coach Petre Gigiu, “Every game is very important because if we lose any game right now, we will be out of the title race. We need to be in the fight and our next match is going to be a tough match.”