In a riveting kick-off to their 2023-24 I-League season campaign, Real Kashmir FC lived up to the expectations of their ardent home supporters by defeating Rajasthan United FC with a convincing 2-0 victory on Saturday, October 28, 2023. The showdown unfurled on the TRC Football Turf in Srinagar with Wayne Vaz and Shaher Shaheen emerging as the scorers of the match.
Nevertheless, Saturday’s win was not without its initial hiccups. Despite the final score, Real Kashmir took their time settling into their rhythm, exhibiting a cautious approach during the early minutes. Meanwhile, Rajasthan United appeared slightly rusty but nonetheless managed to create a few scoring opportunities of their own.
The first notable chance of the game fell to Rajasthan United in the 16th minute. Dario Da’silva Junior exploited a gap in the Real Kashmir defence, manoeuvring past defenders Hyder Yousuf and Ahteeb Ahmad Dar. However, his shot lacked the necessary power and was comfortably gathered by Real Kashmir’s goalkeeper Muheet Shabir.
Real Kashmir responded with a promising opportunity in the 22nd minute when Gnohere Krizo delivered a perfectly timed through pass to Ahteeb Ahmad Dar. Dar managed to beat the offside trap with a beautiful run but agonisingly missed the target with his shot.
As the first half concluded, the match remained goalless, with both teams battling fiercely for control of the game.
Real Kashmir finally broke the deadlock in the 49th minute. A superbly-executed free-kick from Lalramdinsanga Ralte swirled in from the right. At the far post, Kiran Pandhare leapt to connect with the ball, nodding it expertly to Wayne Vaz in the middle of the box. Seizing the chance, Vaz slotted the ball into the net with his left foot as his marker, Suraj Jeet Singh Negi, and Rajasthan United goalkeeper Jha could only watch. It gave Real Kashmir the much-needed lead and confidence.
Real Kashmir had another opportunity to extend their lead in the 58th minute. Dion Menezes provided an excellent delivery into the box from the left, which Krizo headed down for an unmarked Jeremy Laldinpuia. However, Laldinpuia squandered the opportunity, shooting the ball straight at the charging Jha.
Rajasthan United tried to turn the tide by making a few substitutions and came close to equalising in the 68th minute. C Lalchungnunga, a substitute for William Pauliankhum, delivered a cross from the right, which was met by the head of another substitute, Ragav Gupta. However, Real Kashmir’s captain, Muhammad Hammad, was in the right place at the right time, clearing the danger.