Margao: After snatching a point from Mohun Bagan, Air-India will be looking to continue their upward march as they take on defending Champions Salgaocar on Saturday in the 22nd round of the I-League in Fatorda here.
Air-India who put up a solid performance against Mohun Bagan and were set for a win following a brace from Manandeep Singh after being down by a goal from Manish Maithani, until Odafe Okolie found the equalizer for the Mariners.
They are now with 30 points and well clear of the relegation zone and are now hoping to finish at a decent position with five matches in hand remaining.
Air India 3-1 win against Salgaocar in the first leg and their draw against Bagan in their last match will hold them at high spirit tomorrow against Salgaocar who received a setback in defence of their title as they lost to East Bengal 0-1 in their last match.
The pressure is now on the home team to perform as they are 10 points behind leaders Dempo to place themselves to fifth position on 36 points from 21 matches.
But Salgaocar coach Karim Bencherifa is optimistic that his team will do well in the remaining five matches and finish among the top three if not win the title.
"Right now, I do not talk about the title and put the pressure on the boys. We have lost against a strong team. Now we want to concentrate on tomorrow`s match and win," stated
"Air India are unpredictable side who perform well when going go tough and tomorrow they will come hard on us and we will have to play to out potential to win tomorrow," stated
Salgaocar will miss their reliable striker Edeh Chidi due to double booking. Maxie has recovered from his injury but is a doubtful starter as the coach does not risk him from injury as they got to play against Al Wehdat in the AFC Cup on April 4. But their midfield will get the boost with the return of Rocus Lamare and Isfaq Ahmed from a match suspension.
For Airmen, Sandesh Gadkari, who is down with fever will miss tomorrow`s match and coach Santosh Kyshap will be hoping that his strikers Henry Ezeh and Manandeep Singh combine well to carry raids against Salgaocar`s strong defence. Defender Lamine Tamba and Ramandeep Singh have done well in the defence.