Rajasthan United FC qualified for I-League for the first time after a hard-fought goalless draw against Kenkre FC in the final round match of I-League qualifiers at the Bangalore Football Stadium.
The Rajasthan-based club needed a solitary point to secure the elusive I-League berth owing to their two-point lead over Kenkre FC going into the final matchday. This result made Rajasthan United FC the first-ever team from their state to play in the I-League.
The match began with both sides waiting patiently to make a move, and the deadlock was almost broken in the 28th minute when Rajasthan’s Gurmukh Singh misread Kenkre FC captain Al Azhar’s pass to midfielder Pravitto Raju, who had a glorious opportunity to lob the ball over RUFC goalkeeper Vishal Joon but couldn’t put the finishing touches.
Two minutes later, it was Rajasthan’s turn to register an attempt at goal in the 30th minute, when RUFC winger Aman Thapa’s free-kick near the edge of the box was brilliantly saved by Kenkre custodian Tenzin Samdup.
The second half began as it did in the first half, staying toe-to-toe with each other. While Kenkre FC were playing a possession-based approach, Rajasthan United stood their ground with a counter-attack policy.
Mumbai-based Kenkre FC came close to opening the scoring in the 60th minute when striker Ranjeet Singh attempted to chip the ball over goalkeeper Vishal Joon from outside the box, in a repeat sequence of his teammate Pravitto’s attempt earlier in the contest. Just like his team-mate, Ranjeet couldn’t score and this left head coach Akhil Kothari visibly upset.
Rajasthan United’s call for a penalty in the 63rd minute was quashed down when winger Aman Thapa was brought down by Zacharie Mbendato. Kenkre FC had multiple opportunities in the final 10 minutes of the fixture, with substitute Lester Fernandez having the best chance in the 84th minute when he failed to get the best out of a one-on-one situation with the RUFC goalkeeper.
Kenkre FC made a last attempt to break the deadlock in the 90th minute when striker Yash Mhatre miscued his close-range shot at goal. Withstanding the multiple goalscoring advances of Kenkre FC, Rajasthan United escaped with a much-needed stalemate to secure promotion to I-League 2021-22.
Featured photo: I-League