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Real Kashmir FC Lift IFA Shield, their Maiden Major Silverware

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Real Kashmir won the 123rd IFA Shield beating George Telegraph 2-1 in the final in Kolkata on Saturday. Lukman Adefemi and skipper Mason Robertson scored for Kashmir.
real kashmir win IFA Shield

Real Kashmir players at the podium after winning the IFA Shield.

Real Kashmir FC’s (RKFC’s) first major silverware happens to be the historic IFA Shield. They lifted the Shield after beating George Telegraph 2-1 in the final on Saturday. 

The 127-year-old tournament was held without the country’s top sides including regulars East Bengal and Mohun Bagan -- both or rather clubs carrying their names playing in the Indian Super League (ISL).

In fact, in recent years, most of the top clubs in the country have not taken part in the Shield. This year, four I-League teams and eight Calcutta Premier League sides took part. Besides RKFC, Mohammedan Sporting, Gokulam Kerala and Indian Arrows were the other I-League sides.

Fresh from a hat-trick against Mohammedan Sporting in the semifinals, Nigerian forward Lukman Adefemi broke the deadlock in the 38th minute from a penalty. The Georgians, however, restored parity in the second half with a goal by substitute Gautam Das in the 50th minute after a brilliant run.

10 minutes later, skipper Mason Robertson snatched the lead for the Kashmir with a towering header. There was more drama in store at the Saltlake Stadium as the Real Kashmir captain conceded a penalty in the 80th minute when he brought down Vivek Singh inside the box.

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But, Real Kashmir goalkeeper Mithun Samanta turned out to be their hero, diving it to perfection to deny Tanmoy Ghosh’s spotkick. Samanta was brilliant under the bar and it was his second save of the day to be awarded the Man-of-the-Match.

“It is a great moment for the team to win this historic tournament. We feel good and we will go into I-League on the back of this championship and try to play even better. It feels good to save a decisive penalty in a big final like this,” Samanta said.

Just before the I-League starting on January 9, it turned out to be a perfect pre-season outing for the Snow Leopards and coach David Robertson was all excited.

“We are really happy after winning the historical IFA Shield. We know the history of this Shield. We were confident of winning the IFA Shield and at last we did it. We didn’t look at it as a preparation for the I-League but it was a different tournament for us,” the coach said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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