AIFF XI confident of win against HAL

Gurgaon: Having notched up their maiden victory in the I-League in their previous match, a confident AIFF XI would look to continue their winning ways when they take on HAL, Bangalore in a sixth round match here from Thursday.

AIFF XI beat Air India 2-1 on December 22 at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, where Desmond Bulpin`s boys will play against HAL, who would also look to bounce back after losing their last match against Chirag United of Kolkata.

The Delhi-based side, who have collected four points from five matches, will be bolstered by the return of captain Raju Gaikwad who had to miss out his side`s last match due to double bookings.

Gaikwad`s return would be good news for AIFF XI as he will strengthen the inexperienced and struggling backline.

Bulpin will also be happy with the way his forward line played in the last match, scoring two goals -- from Shilton Silva and Jagtar Singh.

Bulpin said his side is not making much changes from the squad that beat Air India. Jeje Lalpekhlua and Malswamfela are
likely to start as strikers with Jagtar Singh coming in later as a substitute.

Tirthankar Sarkar, Shilton Silva, Jewel Raja and Subodh Kumar are expected to man the midfield.

Gaikwad will take the place of either Prathamesh Maulingkar -- man of the match in the last match -- or Deepak Debrani along with Inderpreet Singh and Lalrozama Fanai at the back.

"We are not making much changes in the starting line-up. My boys have an average age of 18 but they are getting increasingly confident with each match. We would look for a win tomorrow," Bulpin told reporters.

"Raju (Gaikwad) is playing tomorrow. Lalrindika Ralte is yet to recover from his injury, the same as Milan Singh," he added.

HAL also would be looking to bounce back in the tournament after losing to Chirag in their last match in Kolkata.

They will be strengthened by the return of mercurial captain Xavier Vijaykumar who missed the match against Chirag due to double booking.

Nigerian striker Abdulla Hamza will also return for tomorrow`s match though the Bangalore-based side will be without key midfielder James Singh who is yet to fully recover from his injury.

"Xavier will return after serving suspension due to double booking. Abdulla will also play but James is yet to recover from his injury," HAL manager Subhash Kumar said.

"We will go all out for a win," he added.

HAL have so far collected seven points from five matches.