Margao: After Al Wehdat dashed their hopes of advancing into the knock-out stage, Salgaocar will now play for pride when they clash tomorrow against Al Arouba of Oman in their penultimate match of the group `D` match of the AFC Cup at Nehru Stadium here.
Salgaocar, who have one point from four outings and struggling to assemble 18 fit players for tomorrow`s match, are without their foreign strikers Edeh Chidi, Ryuji Sueoka, both not yet recovered from their injuries while French midfielder Maxime Belouet is not fully fit.
Besides, defender Khelomba Meetei and Rocus Lamare are out due to suspension while Balwant Singh, Biswajit Saha and Rahul Kumar are fighting fitness battle.
Salgaocar coach Karim Bencherifa expressed mix feeling as his team is playing for the first time in the AFC Cup.
"The boys have done well in the three out of the four matches we have played. In the opening match against Al Arouba, we were close, we got a good result against Neftchi at home which was our best match as we came from behind to hold them to a 2-2 draw and collect the only point, and against Al Wehdat we had a great second half despite having a player sent off," stated Bencherifa.
"Tomorrow is a challenge against Al Arouba without our key players. But going by the team performance I am confident that his team will deliver the good to script their first win," he said.
Al Arouba are placed third with four points from four matches, four points adrift from table topper Al Wehdat. They have an outside chance to make it to the quarter-finals stage if they win both their remaining matches.
They have come here with their confidence high having managed to leapfrog Al Shabab in the Oman League table after convincingly defeating rock-bottom Al Ahli 3-1.
Al Arouba coach Mukhtar Ali knows that tomorrow`s match is vital for the team to stay in contention to qualify for the next round and is confident of beating Salgaocar again.
"Although will be missing captain Mohammed Hamed and striker Abdul Saleh due to suspension and Rae Ibrahim who is with the Olympic national team, we have good side with three foreigners Danilo, Emerson and Habib Dahmani who can deliver the goods for us," stated Ali.