Former champions Salgaocar FC will be aiming to climb into the top half of the points table when they take on struggling DSK Shivajians at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Friday.
Salgaocar are currently placed in the sixth position on the nine-team table, with 12 points from 11 games. After languishing in the relegation zone for the majority of their campaign, the Vasco-based side now have the opportunity to find themselves in the fourth position, if they pick up all three points versus DSK.
The Goans had a dismal start to the season under former coach Malky Thomson which saw them lose their opening four matches. Thomson was later replaced by former Mohun Bagan coach Santosh Kashyap.
Despite succumbing to a couple of defeats, Kashyap has helped a largely unfit side fight with vigour and as a result, they have achieved some impressive results. Salgaocar head into Friday's fixture on the back of a 1-0 win against Shillong Lajong courtesy of a Gilbert Oliviera long-ranger. That win meant Salgaocar bagged back-to-back wins in the I-League, with the first win coming against title-aspirants East Bengal.
"We are injury free except Reagen who has some recovery to be done. Augustin has played two intensity games with the national side and I'll have to assess him." Kashyap said ahead of the game.
"The game is very important for us considering how close teams are in the table. We are confident to get three points" he added.
Their opponents on Friday however, will do their utmost best to ensure that Salgaocar's ambitions are curtailed. DSK Shivajians' last fixture was a 3-1 win over Sporting Clube de Goa. A brace from Douhou Pierre and an Aser Dipanda goal ensured that Derrick Pereira's side dominated a hapless looking Sporting.
The Pune outfit took their time but have developed into a strong unit as the season has progressed. Procuring Sandesh Jhinghan has given their defence some stealth while Juan Quero's signing has added a new dimension to their attack.
Derrick Pereira gave an injury update on his side before the game.
"We have our full squad fit. Only Justin Stephen picked up a knock yesterday and we will have to take a call on him," Pereira said on his return to Tilak Maidan as an away manager.
"I expect a tough challenge tomorrow. We are prepared to play in the afternoon heat," he added
The emphasis will be on the trio of Quero-Dipanda-Douhou to link up and wreck the Salgaocar FC defence. The hosts will have to guard themselves against DSK Shivajians, but possess some stealth in their attack as well to overcome the challenge.Published 01 Apr 2016, 15:21 IST