Barring one injury scare to defender Kali Alaudeen, Air India has the luxury of choosing playing eleven from the entire squad as they go into the match against Pailan Arrows in the Round XI, of the I-League football championship at the Balewadi Sports Complex here on Friday.
“Kali has little bit of pain, but we are not pressing any panic button. We will take a call on him only tomorrow,” Air India coach Santosh Kashyap said on Thursday after team practice.
Coming in for their home match after back-to-back away wins in Goa, Air India is a side that now exudes confidence having installed itself firmly in the top 10 and much away from danger zone.
“Boys are in very good mood. Wins against Sporting Clube de Goa and Dempo have done a world of good to their confidence and it gives me hope that we will secure full points from tomorrow’s clash,” said Kashyap.
Air India, who are currently in seventh position, two points behind Pune FC with a game in hand, should undoubtedly be the superior side given that Pailan Arrows are yet to register first win of the season.
Nonetheless, Air India would like to keep their defences intact and not take Pailan Arrows lightly.
“They have some good players and have done well in the recent past. Rankings are one thing, but they have improved a lot since the season began so we will be careful,” Kashyap explained.
While on the other hand Pailan who are still looking for a win, may go for some experimentation as it has been part of Pailan since inception, it was more than evident when they employed a nine-man defence and held East Bengal to a goalless draw last Sunday.
It may be a negative tactic, but for a team that is languishing at the bottom of the league ranking with six points from as many drawn games, anything that serves its purpose is fair.
Before going in for 11th round, Air India is on 7th position with 16 points from ten matches. While Pailan is languishing at the bottom of the table on 13th position with 6 points from same number of matches.