New Delhi: The players of the Real Kashmir FC have expressed their excitement after becoming the first Jammu and Kashmir football team to qualify for the I-League. The team also reflected on their four-month journey that eventually saw them clinching the second division League title.
Talking to ANI, defender and vice-captain Muhammad Hammad said that it has been an incredible four-month journey together, adding that the hard work of the players had finally paid off.
"It was a great experience playing against them (Hindustan FC).
"Especially in the final match, it was a do-or-die match. By the grace of almighty, we qualified for the senior I-League.
"It was a memorable journey. It has been four months together. We spent a lot of time together. We worked really hard. That is why we are here today," Hammad said.
He further said that his team would now look to replicate a similar kind of performance in the upcoming season of the I-League as they had been performing in the second division.
"It is the first team from Kashmir to qualify for the senior I-League. It was a memorable journey. History was created.
"So, we are looking forward to playing I-League next season. Hopefully, we will do well there also next season," he said.
Real Kashmir FC clinched the 2017-18 Second Division League title to secure promotion to the I-League. In the process, they also became the first club from Jammu and Kashmir to have qualified for the premier league of the country, the I-League.
The defender insisted that it would now change the image of the Kashmir Valley and that more youth would now be inspired to take up the sport.
"I believe that more Kashmiri youth will take up the sport now. Now, there are a lot of platforms for them to perform. It can now change the image of the Kashmir valley now. Most of the young generation will play sports now. They might get inspiration from local heroes. They can now try in sports," Hammad said.
Echoing similar view, center-midfielder Shanawaz Bashir insisted that Real Kashmir FC are now in India`s football map and that the youth of the state would now be benefited from the club.
"I think the youth of Kashmir will get the benefit from this club. And the government will support us. Now, we are on India`s football map. There is a lot of talent in Kashmir" Bashir said.
Reflecting on his experience of playing in the second division I-League, Bashir said, "The experience was good. We were playing altogether. We gave a good performance.
"We made our full efforts. The youth will now get a benefit from our team. They have got a great platform now. They can now show their talent to the whole country. They can now go and achieve medals for India."
David Robertson`s side only needed a point to win the title and promotion on the final day of the 2nd Division League season, but Real Kashmir FC produced a clinically efficient performance to blank Hindustan FC 3-2 at the FSV Arena in Bengaluru.
Real Kashmir scored through Ifham Tariq Mir (22`), Danish Farooq (42`) and Nadong Bhutia (67`) while Kushant Chauhan (34` & 80`) was on target for Hindustan FC.