Punjab FC, Real Kashmir look to keep title hopes alive
Ludhiana, Feb 15 : Punjab FC and Real Kashmir will look to consolidate their positions in the top four and keep their title hopes alive when they clash in an I-League fixture at the Guru Nanak Stadium here on Sunday.
Punjab will be coming into this fixture on the back of a disappointing trip to Kolkata, having picked up just one point out of a possible six against runaway leaders Mohun Bagan and currently-relegation battling East Bengal.
The solitary point return has allowed the Mariners to leave behind the chasing pack, sitting at the top with 11 points clear of the Yan Law-coached team in second place.
However, Yan Law said the race for the I-League crown isn’t over yet.
“Honestly, the league has gotten tougher. Every team has started picking up pace. Although we are placed second, the gap between us and the league leaders is quite big but we haven’t lost any hope yet. We are going to keep working hard and keep fighting to close the gap between us and Mohun Bagan,” he said.
“The title race is still wide open. Kashmir are doing well and have picked up valuable points in their last couple of games. They are going to come and play us with high confidence.”
The last meeting between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw and Yan Law believes that his side have some unfinished business.
“We are surely going to give them a tough time as we were not satisfied with the draw with them in the first leg,” he said.
Coming into this fixture after an eight-day break, Real Kashmir will leapfrog Punjab to second in the table should they win but the visitors will be wary of the challenges an away trip to Ludhiana brings.
“Ludhiana is a tough place to travel to but the break has given us time to prepare. We got back to Srinagar for a few days to practice, so we have made the most of our interval,” said David Robertson, head coach of Real Kashmir FC.
The Snow Leopards have suffered just one away defeat in all their I-League matches so far, going back to their debut in the 2017-18 season and Robertson has taken note of the statistics.
“Home advantage is always there to play a crucial role no matter who it is. But, we take confidence in the fact we have only lost only one away league game in Hero I-League so far.
“We played Aizawl in our last game, who were unbeaten at home, and managed to get all three points. Having said that, we know Punjab are a good team and are second in the league for a reason,” the Scot said.