It'll be nice for Real Kashmir to be in ISL: Head coach Robertson

File photo of Real Kashmir head coach David Robertson.

It would be nice to get into the Indian Super League (ISL) but for now Real Kashmir are making sure that they can finish as high as possible in the I-League, said the club head coach David Robertson.

Robertson said that while the club hierarchy has intentions of reaching for a slot in the ISL as soon as possible, the financial fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic adds more uncertainty to the situation.

“We are not sure with the pandemic and all the financial problems that have come with it,” Robertson told IANS when asked about conversations he has had with the club owners about playing in the ISL.

“Sandeep [Chattoo, the club co-owner] is a very ambitious man and the aim is about getting to the highest level we can get. No doubt we will get there at some point, but I think it is just a little bit difficult at this time. It will be nice for a club like Real Kashmir [to play in the ISL]. At the same time, we are in the I-League and before we go anywhere else, we have to do well here first,” he said.

The I-League is being played without a defending champion this season after Mohun Bagan’s merger with ATK helped them gain a berth in the ISL, along with their arch-rivals East Bengal.

The current roadmap, which was finalised in October 2019, states that the champions of the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons will get automatic berths in the ISL. The promotion and relegation in the league will start from 2024-25 season.

All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das said in a virtual press-conference before the start of the 2020-21 I-League that there would be no changes to the roadmap in the wake of the pandemic.

Real Kashmir are into their third season in the I-League. Robertson had maintained throughout their first season in the league that their aim was to only avoid relegation and they ended up finishing third.

They were rather unlucky to have finished fourth in the subsequent season that was brought to an end with 28 matches still left to play due to the pandemic.

Real Kashmir are now two games into the 2020-21 season and have gained four points. They played out a 1-1 draw against Tiddim Road Athletic Union FC in their first match before beating Chennai City 2-0 on Friday.

They had also won their first major trophy in the IFA Shield before the start of the league.

“We created enough chances in both games. We were at times lacking a bit of cohesiveness unfortunately and that’s probably because some of the players are still getting used to playing in the league. We won the IFA Shield, of course, but a few players didn’t play in that because they were in quarantine and they only had a couple of days of training before the start of the season. The players have shown a lot of character. We lacked experience in previous seasons and so we have signed a few senior players for that like Dipanda Dicka and Lalrindika Ralte,” he said.