Ozone FC and Real Kashmir FC will aim to start their Hero 2ND Division League final round campaign on the right foot when they square off at the FSV Arena in Bengaluru on Thursday (May 24, 2018). The match will kick-off at 5:45 pm.
Following a grueling qualifying round four teams have made it to the final round and at the end of a single round-robin competition, the top team will earn promotion in the next edition of Hero I-League.
While Ozone FC qualified for the final round on top of their qualifying group after an impressive run that saw them beating strong teams like FC Kerala and Fateh Hyderabad. Real Kashmir defied the odds to topple a tricky group that included Hindustan FC, Delhi United and Lonestar Kashmir FC.
It’s no secret that physical play against Real Kashmir will be crucial for Ozone FC. While Ozone FC have a reputation for free-flowing and attacking football, they are equally known for their physical play.
Ozone FC have shown just how explosive they could be with 19 goals during a nine-game unbeaten streak in qualifying round before falling to Kerala Blasters reserves 1-0 in their final qualifying round game.
Ozone FC coach David Booth has underlined the importance of a winning start insisting that a win on day one will put the team in commanding position for rest of the campaign.
The Ozone roster is loaded with experience, boasting a blend of players such as Vignesh, Sabeeth Sathyan, Clyde Fernandes, and Chika Wali though players with valuable I-League experience like NS Manju, Chinta Chandrashekhar Rao, Sampath Kuttymani rarely find a start.
However, all eyes will on the Brazilian goal-scoring machine Robert De Souza, who will lead the dream of Ozone FC in the final round. The 26-year-old has been in great form in the qualifying round and leading the goal-scoring chart with 8 goals.
These many dangerous and creative players mean the Real Kashmir back-line needs to maintain it’s shaping throughout the 90 minutes, and coach David Robertson feels everyone must stay focused on the task at hand. He noted Ozone FC thrives on give-and-go opportunities with short, quick passes to draw out and get behind opposing defenders.
His experience should provide a valuable asset, along with the speed and physicality of youngsters Atinder Mani and Ifham Tariq Mir. They may have some nerves on such a big stage, but Robertson thinks that’s to be expected for everyone and it’s important for them to soak up the pressure.
The game looks balanced although with Ozone FC slightly with a slight advantage due to pedigree but Real Kashmir have a few quality players that can hurt any opponents on a given day.