I-League: Air India face Chirag United Kerala

Pune: Air India will take on Chirag United Kerala here on Sunday in the I-League. It could be the last match for Air India at their home, before the I-League takes 40-odd-day break.


This 20th round clash provides Santosh Kashyap’s side yet another chance to prove that they have the will to be among the top teams as they would be breaking the 30-point mark if the Mumbai team is able to beat their Kerala counterparts.

In their last match against Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore, Air India played superb football—fast paced game for full 90 minutes something that is seldom seen in domestic matches.

Now that Air India is fully secured, there is no reason why the Mumbai team will not go all out and earn full points from the games against Chirag.

Takayuki Omi and Sandeep Sangha were at the brilliant best, creating several chances for their forwards Manandeep Singh, Allan Dias and Henry Ezeh. Kashyap was content with benching striker Sandesh Gadkari for most part of the match before sending him substitute late in the second half.

In defence, Lamine Tamba was the most active. He in fact moved up and down and had tussle with the HAL defenders that invited yellow card from the referee. But Tamba and Collin Abranches have been Air India’s key defenders on whom custodian Pawan Kumar relies on. The ‘keeper himself was very active under the bar and saved several shots at the goal, if not all were threatening shots.

Currently placed at No 9 with 27 points, a win will not necessarily push them upwards as No 8 ranked Sporting Clube de Goa are already on 30 points. But a win going into the break will give Air India some sense of respite that their campaign has been fruitful so far, unlike their fellow Mumbai counterparts, Mumbai FC.

Chirag United Kerala on the other hand have themselves to blame for their state. At No 12 position with 11 points, the Kerala outfit has one foot in the drop zone even as they have one extra match to play. While HAL would most likely to be relegated, the fight for second spot is between Chirag and Mumbai, which currently has 17 points.

When Chirag came here last, they beat Mumbai in a shock result, and Air India would be wary of that. Chirag in a sense is a balanced side, but luck has not been with them on most occasions, so when they take the field on Sunday afternoon, Mohammed Nizam Packeer Ali’s side will at least like to put up a good show and see if they can repeat their performance at the Balewadi yet again.




By Indian Sports News