With an eye on securing a place in the first division, Kenkre FC will begin their campaign in the Hero I-League Qualifiers against Kerala United FC on Tuesday at 12.30 PM in their Pool B clash here at the Bangalore Football Stadium in Bengaluru. Catch the proceedings of the match live on the Hero I-League’s official Facebook page.
From the city of dreams – Mumbai, Kenkre FC will be keen on bagging the winning points from their first match in Pool B which consists of new comers Corbett FC, and the experienced ARA FC and Kerala United. Speaking about the team’s chances ahead of their game against Kerala United, Kenkre FC’s experienced goalkeeper Tenzin Samdup said, “We have a set plan for every team and we have been preparing well on executing that plan to perfection. First game of the tournament is always important and we are ready to put up a competitive show against the Kerala United.”
He further highlighted that the mood in the team is upbeat and the players are rearing to go. “There is a positive environment in the team and we have a very good set of players. We had a good pre-season and the most important thing tomorrow will be to stay focused on bagging the three points,” Tenzin emphasised.
Backed with solid preparations for the tournament, the experienced goalie assured the team is well-equipped to deliver entertaining brand of football. He said, “Our pre-season was in Mumbai, we trained two sessions a day and also played a few practice matches and friendlies with ISL teams and local teams. We worked on all aspects of the game and now we are mentally prepared to play entertaining brand of football.”
Adding to Tenzin’s views, Kenkre FC head coach Akhil Kothari said, “We had a short and unique approach to our preparations this time. The boys have worked really hard and the emphasis is on mental freshness to ensure progress in the competition from group stage to the knockouts.”
Speaking about their opponents, Kothari said, “Kerala United is a new team and second division I-League is a tricky competition with respect to the opponents. Our aim will be to gain three points in every match we play in our pool.”
With a vision to promote local players from Maharashtra, Kenkre FC will field 23 players from Maharashtra in their group of 30. “As a club from Mumbai city, we have always promoted local players. In our squad of 30 we have 23 from Maharashtra and seven are more experienced players. This combination of youth and experience will be one of our assets going into the tournament,” added Kothari.
Kerala United FC head coach Bino George, on the other hand, explained just why this tournament is so important for him and the team. “There is a lot of potential in Kerala and after Gokulam FC and Kerala Blasters, we still have a lot of players who are good to play in the top leagues in India. Doing well here will enable our players to make it to the next level. The vision is to have more players from Kerala represent the country,” stated George.
During a pre-match virtual press conference, George further expressed that his team is backed by some good pre-season preparations back home. “We began training one month ago, and played two matches against Kerala Blasters and Gokulam FC. We got good 4-5 matches but we also had two to three of our players suffer injuries. But we have a good bench strength and also have a lot of players in our pool who can step up when needed,” George asserted.
Meanwhile, their experienced goalie Mithun who has played in the Santosh Trophy for six seasons said, “I am looking forward to play in the Hero I-League Qualifiers as it’s a great platform and an opportunity. All teams in the second division are usually on-par with each other are capable of coming up with some good, entertaining hockey. The team that has good foreign players will perhaps have the edge over others. We are looking forward to our first game.”
On Tuesday, both teams will be vying to open the points table in their first Pool B match.
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