2nd Div I-League Team Profile : Kenkre Football Club
About the team:
One of the oldest clubs in Mumbai, Kenkre FC came into existence in 2000. They are the only Mumbai based team to participate in the I-League 2nd Division, and also the only club representing Maharashtra. Sir Adib Kenkre founded the club, and is the current owner and Chairman.
The club are well known for their emphasis on youth education, with owner Adib Kenkre himself being a coach of the Bombay Scottish School.
Previous year’s second division's performances
Kenkre FC had a disastrous last season, as the finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, which comprised of teams like Minerva Punjab FC and eventual Champions Dempo SC.
They lost four of their eight games, winning just one game and failing to qualify for the final rounds.
1st Round performance
This season has been a revelation for the Mumbai based side, where they lost a solitary game in the 1st Round, improving leaps and bound from their last seasons failures.
Kenkre find themselves second in the Group C, only a point behind Fateh Hyderabad. Their points tally of 11 is bettered by only Neroca FC, Southern Samityand the aforementioned Fateh Hyderabad.
Here’s the fill list of their results.
21st Jan – Ozone FC 1-2 Kenkre FC (W)
27th Jan – Kenkre FC 0-0 Fateh Hyderabad (D)
4th Feb – Pride Sports 0-1 Kenkre FC (W)
9th Feb – Fateh Hyderabad 0-0 Kenkre FC (D)
17th Feb – Kenkre FC 2-0 Pride Sports (W)
24th Feb – Kenkre FC 2-3 Ozone FC (L)
Target in the final round
All the teams in the final round are eyeing the ultimate prize, promotion to the I-League, and Kenkre FC are not an exception. When Feverpitch talked to club captain and defender Nitesh Aswani, he spoke how pumped up and well prepared his side are for the final rounds starting from Sunday.
Neroca FC are playing some eye-catching football, while Fateh Hyderabad have also proved their promotion credentials. It would need some real quality from the Mumbai side to overcome the challenge of the above two.
Players to watch out for
The aforementioned Nitesh Aswani has lead the team from the front, with his stellar performances helping his side keep four clean sheets, conceding just three goals in the process. If anything, Kenkre’s defensive stoutness is their strength and likely to take them further forward.
Towering striker Yao Kouassi Bernard has been Kenkre FC’s source for goals, and is their top scorer with three goals. The Ivorian previously has stated his desire to be the top scorer of the I-League 2nd Division, and he will be out to achieve his personal goal.
Teenager Shunhan Pheiray has been the one of the picks in Ekendra Singh’s young side. Shunhan was plying his trade for the U-19 side lasts season, but saw himself promoted to the first team, and has been a regular fixture in Kenkre FC’s cog. Blessed with pace and a positional brain, his versatility playing at right-back and on the wings has proved to be quite handy.
About the coach and his influence
A respected name in Indian Football, Ekendra Singh took over the reigns at Kenkre FC from Salim Pathan, who was sacked following a disastrous last season.Singh took some brave decisions, as some big name players from last season in Egypsio, Taha, Francisco, Shawn Fernandes and Samuel Bradley were all released. But his decision to trust the youths seems to be coming off, as they find themselves having a real chance at promotion.
Ekendra Singh has been a cult figure in the development of domestic big name players, with Indian Women’s Football’s finest Bembem Devi being one of the finest examples.
Expectations in the final round
Kenkre FC face some tough names in Neroca FC, LoneStar Kashmir and Fateh Hyderabad, but they have proved their mettle in the group stages, qualifying ahead of the highly hoped Ozone FC. For a young squad, going all the way might just be difficult.
The club’s ability to survive in the I-League if promoted
Kenkre FC in the past have recruited some big names, and roping in players who would fit in the I-League quality bracket should not be an issue. Ekendra Singh has managed to get most out fo the current squad, but not all are ready for I-League’s big challenge if promoted. A midfield and attacking revamp might just have a balanced squad for the immunity to survive in India’s most elite division.
What will they bring to the I-League?
Kenkre FC’s promotion could mean replacing one Mumbai team by another, with Mumbai FC’s fate in the I-League all but decided.
Melroy Fernandes, Joe Paul.
Defenders: Sandeep Upadhyay, Aditya Gole, Nitesh Aswani (C), Boubacar Keita, Assumption Soares, Arish Sutaria.
Midfielders: Bilal Mohammed, Rajib Ghorui, Jayesh Kadam, Shunan Pheiray, Siddharth Colaco, Deepak Tirkey, Aravindraj Rajan, Kenneth Fernandes, Yogesh Kadam.
Forwards: Yash Mhatre, Yao Kouassi Bernard, Abuzar Beg.
Final Round fixtures:
April 9 – Kenkre FC vs Delhi United FC – Cooperage Stadium.
April 12 – Kenkre FC vs Neroca FC – Cooperage Stadium.
April 18 – Kenkre FC vs Lonestar Kashmir – Cooperage Stadium.
April 22 – Kenkre FC vs Southern Samity FC – Cooperage Stadium.
April 29 – Neroca FC vs Kenkre FC – Khuman Lampak Stadium.
May 04 – Southern Samity FC vs Kenkre FC – Barasat Stadium.
May 09 – Fateh Hyderabad vs Kenkre FC – Gachibowli Stadium.
May 17 – Lonestar Kashmir FC vs Kenkre FC – TRC Turf Ground.
May 22 – Delhi United FC vs Kenkre FC – Ambedkar Stadium.
May 28 – Kenkre FC vs Fateh Hyderabad – Cooperage Stadium.