THE FOOTBALL FANS OF KASHMIR will finally get to see their local club in action at home in the I-League.
After Real Kashmir FC's first two home matches, against Gokulam Kerala FC and Churchill Brothers, had to be postponed due to snow in Srinagar, their next home encounter against defending champions Chennai City FC seems on track to take place on 26th December.
However, the match will not kick off at 2 pm Indian Standard Time as originally planned. The organizers have decided at an early kick-off time of 12 noon.
Both participating clubs, Chennai City FC and Real Kashmir FC, are expected to reach Srinagar tomorrow, 24th December, a couple of days ahead of the match. Both clubs were held 2-2 by their Manipuri opponents over the weekend.
The match is seen as one of the crucial encounters of the season, as both Chennai City and Real Kashmir FC are struggling with back to back draws; but a win can lift either club into the ranks of the top contenders.
Last season, Chennai City FC made history by becoming the first club from Tamil Nadu to win the top division league of India, and qualify for the AFC Champions League preliminary round. Real Kashmir, meanwhile, made their own mark: their I-League debut season saw a wave of support at home matches and they finished third on the points table.
Recently, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said at the India Football Forum 2019 that Real Kashmir FC's home matches at the TRC Turf Ground got sellout crowds that were actually way more in number than the limit of 12,000 placed by security forces; but the official attendance had to show a lesser number upon being requested by police personnel to do so.
The high interest in the matches of Real Kashmir FC made the matches in Srinagar important for I-League and Indian football to showcase the popularity of the sport; an effort that faced many challenges like volatile political climate and turf-jamming snowstorms. But the AIFF, and the offiicals of Real Kashmir FC, have tried hard not to move the Snow Leopards' home matches out of Jammu & Kashmir, and in most parts, they have succeeded.
It is hoped that DSport, the offiical broadcasters of I-League, will show the match live, barring any unforeseeable last minute technical difficulties.