It’s a well-known fact that FC Air India has the modest of budgets to run as a professional football club. The money involved is probably equivalent to the amount that was exchanged on a high profile single player signing done at a club from Kolkata recently. Even afterA� having such a financial situation and being an institutional clubA�, there is this spectacular story that unfolds every season,A� year after year for “The Pilots” in the National Football League.

Air India have not been relegated from the I-League for past few seasons now and have escaped relegation on the last day on a couple of occasions. Coaches of the caliber of Bimal Ghosh and more recently Santosh Kashyap have a job to rebuild the team each time as AIFC signs players’ contracts that last not more than one year.A� Having minimal resources, managing the football team of Air India is one of the most challenging jobs in India.


Santosh Kashyap – Pilot of the pilots

Summer Transfer Activities

Mohammed Dada NabeelA�StrikerSalgaokar SC
L. Dhanachandra SInghA�DefenderMumbai FC
Okorogor PraiseA�StrikerA�NA
Yusuf IbrahimA�MidfilederA�NA
Amrit Pal SinghA�DefenderMohd. Sporting
Lamine TambaA�DefenderPune FC
Pavan KumarA�Goal KeeperJCT
Sandesh GadkariA�StrikerPune FC
V. Prem KumarA�DefenderUtd. Sikkim FC
Ramandeep Singh RandhawaA�DefenderMumbai FC
Ezeh HenryA�StrikerMumbai FC
Nisthar Kali AlaudeenA�DefenderCentral Excise
Oken SinghA�DefenderKenkre FC
TakayukiA�MidfielderA�NA, Japan
Safi MuhammedA�MidfielderViva Kerala


Squad Analysis

Goalkeepers: Pavan Kumar, Amit Nandy

Air India have conceded a whooping 57 goals last season and 46 in the previous edition. That’s an average of near two goals per match. To sort out the goalkeeping department, Pavan Kumar has been roped in from the dismantled JCT FC TeamA�while the second choice goalkeeperA�Amit Nandy is a former India U-20 International.

THT Verdict: With the defensive tactics that AI employ during league games, Pavan Kumar could be in action most of the times. As a matter of fact AI had managed 4 clean sheets in home games and 2 in their away games last season. A similar performance by Pavan and Amit can prove to be vital in AI’s survival season.

Goalkeeper Pavan Kumar will be a key player

Lamine Tamba, Nisthar Kali Alaudeen, V. Prem Kumar, Collin Abranches, Haobijam Napolean Singh, Bijay Baspore, Oken Singh

The few players that AI have managed to retain include the defensive trio of Collin Abranches, Napolean Singh and Bijay Baspore. With new recruits Lamine Tamba, Alaudeen, Oken Singh and Prem Kumar, the AI back line does look decent on paper. Tamba and Alaudeen can pair up as center backs with Prem Kumar as a substitute. Bijay and Collin can be used at the rights back whereas Oken and Napolean can pair up on the left wing.

THT Verdict: Holding up of the defensive line throughout the season is going to be crucial for the Pilots as any inconsistent performance from the back four is going to cost the team point scoring opportunities.

Midfielders: Hringsolal Thomte, Soccor Velho, Takayuki, Pratek Chowdhary, Safi Muhammed, Ramanadeep Singh Randhawa, Abhishek Ambekar, Rahul Bhere, Bhuvan Krishna Joshi, Satvinder Singh, Manandeep Singh.

A host of players including some old timers like H. Thomte and Soccor Velho and youngsters like Abhishek Ambekar, Rahul Bhere, Bhuvan Joshi form theA�crux ofA�midfield for Team Air India. The agile Japanese playmaker Takauyki (Picture on the left) does add versatility to the attack but the overall AI half line lacks quality and the physical prowess that is very much needed in the I-League.

THT Verdict: AIFC look the weakest in midfield compared against their defense and forward line. Coach Santosh Kashyap will have to get the best out of his midfielders to deliver sleek passes and crosses to the strikers

Strikers: Ezeh Henry, Manjit Singh, Sandesh Gadkari, Abhishek Mathew

Surprisingly Air India have a better record than their Mumbai counterparts in the scoring department. Moreover AIFC have managed to score on 9 occasions each, home and away, out of a possible 13 matches in the last two I-League seasons.

Having signed Ezeh Henry from Mumbai FC, the Pilots can bank on his scoring ability to maintain the record. Stalwart Manjit Singh and the lanky striker from Pune FC, Sandesh Gadkari (Picture on the right ), should assist Ezeh by getting defenders off him and scoring a goal or two between them.

THT Verdict: Over dependency on Ezeh Henry could be a pitfall for Santosh Kashyap’s team. Manjit , Sandesh and Abhishek Mathew must up their game to provide breathing space for Ezeh Henry during the games.

Three Key Targets

1. I-League : Avoiding Relegation. Period.

2. Fed Cup : Going past the group stage could be a realistic target for the Mumbai based team. The other teams involved in Air India’s group are Prayag Utd , Sporting Club de Goa and Viva Kerala.

3. MDFA League : Air India are strong contenders for the local Elite Group Title which comprises of teams like ONGC, Mumbai FC and PIFA.

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One Response to “Air India Football Club: Team Analysis And Season Preview 2011-12”

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  1. Sat says:

    Darren Caldeira was with AI last year…has he been released?