SALGAOCAR
Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? v
AL AROUBA

5:45 PM, PJN STADIUM, MARGAO

***

.

An injury-ravaged Salgaocar Sports Club, who are already out of contention for a place in the knock-out stages, take on Al Arouba in their final home game of the AFC Cup campaign. The defending I-League champions will be without a host of their players who are either suspended or injured for this clash.

Team News And Tactical Brief

Salgaocar

Edeh Chidi and Ryuji Sueoka have not played for almost a month now due to injuries while another headache for coach Karim Bencherifa has been the fitness of newly-signed French midfielder Maxime Belouet. The Frenchman experienced pain in his ankle and limped out of practice on Sunday. Luciano Sabrosa is likely to be fielded even though he has some fitness problems while Biswajit Saha, Randeep Singh and Rahul Kumar are all doubtful starters. To add to Karimai??i??s woes, Rocus Lamare and Irungbam Meitei are suspended for todayai??i??s clash.

But even so many first team players missing, Karim Bencherifa is quietly confident of getting at least a point in their last home game of the AFC Cup.

“Expect surprises in this game”, he told reporters at the pre match press conference.

The long and hard season has taken its toll on the players and its no surprise that Karim has started complaining about the scheduling of the AFC Cup and the League.

“We have played 24 rounds in the I-League and most of our players are nearing 40 matches this season, it’s a tough season for the players. Having said that, I would also like to stress that tomorrow’s game will be a challenge for us,” said Bencherifa. “We are hoping to put up a good show despite suspensions of Rocus and Khelemba and the injuries to Chidi and Seuoka.

But if you look at our previous matches, I think we have performed really well despite setbacks. This shows the character and the fighting spirit our team possess. Apart from the match in Jordan where we lost 5-0, I think our performance in the AFC Cup has been satisfactory and I hope to put on a good show in front of our home fans.”

To be fair, Salgaocar have had a decent campaign in the continental competition, suffering only one major reverse against Al-Wehdat where they lost 5-0. They held mighty Neftchi at home to a 2-2 draw and were unlucky to lose against Al Wehdat at home. Salgaocar were beaten 1-0 in their corresponding fixture.

Salgaocar probable XI: Karanjit, Luciano, Rino, Nicolau, Mehraj, Tomba, Beevan, Gilbert, Ishfaq, Milagres, Balwant.

Al Arouba

Al-Arouba will be desperate for a win to have any hopes of qualifying for the next round. The Omani club is in third place and are four points behind second-placed Neftchi. They desperately need a win to have any hopes of making it to the round of 16. But there are concerns for coach Mukhtar Mukhtar as forward Abdullah Abdulhadi and midfielder Mohamed Kutkoot are both suspended, although striker Humaid Al Ghelaini will be welcomed after a one game suspension.

“The match against Salgaocar will be our last chances to maintain any hope of qualifying to the next stage especially after losing two important points in the previous match against Neftchi,” said Mukhtar. “Winning against Salgaocar will open the door for us to compete for a place in the next stage especially because we will host Al Wehdat at home in the last match. We will go into the game with big confidence and hopefully we can have a good result.”

The Omani club has three Brazilians in their roster although it is unlikely that all three will play. If the Omani club win today and Al Wehdat draw or lose against Neftch, it will set up an intriguing final round of matches as Al Arouba will face Al-Wehdat in what will be a decider as to who qualifies for the round of 16.

Al Arouba probable XI: Habiba, Raed, Rashid, Saijod, Ahmed, Mohammed, Juma, Mukhaina, Ibrahim, Al Fairsi, Salim

TheHardTackleai??i??s Players to watch out for: Gilbert Oliveira (Salgaocar), Al Fairsi (Al Arouba)

TheHardTackleai??i??s prediction: Salgaocar 1-1 Al Arouba

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