I-League: Real Kashmir FC’s fluent win confirms NEROCA FC’s relegation

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NEROCA FC’s struggle throughout the I-League season culminated in relegation following their 3-0 defeat to Real Kashmir FC at the TRC Football Turf here on Saturday.


Goals from Real Kashmir’s Gnohere Krizo, Hyder Yousuf and Shaher Shaheen sealed the fate of NEROCA FC in the league.


This loss left the Orange Brigade in 12th place, with a total of 13 points from 21 matches. Their record of four wins, one draw, and 16 losses reflects the challenges they faced throughout the season.


With only three matches left to play, NEROCA find themselves in an insurmountable position and even if they were to win all their remaining fixtures, they would only amass a total of 22 points, falling short of overtaking Churchill Brothers (Namdhari are exempt from relegation this season). The other team to have been relegated are their city rivals TRAU FC.


Real Kashmir, on the other hand, finally notched up a win after playing out consecutive draws in their last four matches. They also extended their unbeaten streak to nine matches. The last time the Snow Leopards had lost a match in the league was against Rajasthan United FC back on February 9. The win took them to second spot in the standings even though they are out of title race. They now have 40 points from 22 matches with 11 wins, seven draws and four losses.


NEROCA came into the match on the back of two derby wins over TRAU and were in a do-or-die situation. However, they failed to put up a meaningful challenge on Saturday. The Snow Leopards dominated from the outset and created a flurry of chances before taking the lead in the 35th minute.


Carlos Lomba launched a long ball from the deep towards the direction of Krizo. The Ivory Coast striker controlled the ball with his head and surged past two NEROCA players Baoringdao Bodo and Ronaldo Nongthombam to set himself up in a one-on-one position with goalkeeper Khoirom Jackson Singh. With the custodian coming off his line, Krizo intelligently chipped the ball over Jackson’s head to open the scoring.


Real Kashmir doubled their advantage at the stroke of half time. Real Kashmir defender Shaher Shaheen saw Yousuf making a run on the overlap and sent a long ball forward. Yousuf beat the offside trap brilliantly with a well-timed run before bringing down the aerial ball with a deft touch and unleashing a skilful left footer to score in the 45th minute.


The script didn’t change much in the second half. Real Kashmir maintained their dominance and effectively managed the match, trying to capitalise on their chances. They extended their lead to three in the 67th minute through a set piece. Jeremy Laldinpuia floated in a corner from the left and an unmarked Shaher Shaheen scored with a header at the far post to seal the match.

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