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Turf war at Ambedkar

After coach Bob Houghton, it was the India players' turn to voice their anger about the turf at the Ambedkar Stadium where the ONGC 14th Nehru Cup is being held. “This school ground looks much, much better than the turf at the Ambedkar Stadium,” Renedy Singh said, after a session at the Delhi Public School ground on Thursday.

football Updated: Aug 21, 2009 01:03 IST
Abhishek Hore

After coach Bob Houghton, it was the India players' turn to voice their anger about the turf at the Ambedkar Stadium where the ONGC 14th Nehru Cup is being held. “This school ground looks much, much better than the turf at the Ambedkar Stadium,” Renedy Singh said, after a session at the Delhi Public School ground on Thursday.

“What is the point in going on exposure trips and training with world class facilities if we get such turf for playing an international tournament,” Gourmangi Singh chimed in. “It is so difficult to play fluent football on such a ground,” the defender said. “We couldn't play on the ground effectively and passing was very difficult,” he added. Mahesh Gawli too didn't spare the Ambedkar turf. “The grass was so long that it became impossible for us to play the passing game. They should something about the turf as soon as possible,” Gawli said.

The organisers got the grass trimmed before Thursday's Syria versus Kyrgyzstan but the turf still looked uneven.

Gawli ready for challenge

The loss to Lebanon is history now and Bhaichung Bhutia too wants to 'forget' the opening match. But it is the hairline fracture to NS Manju that seems to have disturbed India's plans slightly. Ruled out of the tournament, the left-back's likely replacement, Gawli, is keyed up by the prospect of starting against Kyrgystan on Saturday but said Manju's injury was “unfortunate”.

“But I am ready for the challenge. I am not carrying any injuries and I hope to play my role to perfection, provided I am included in the starting line-up,” said Gawli, who resolutely led India's defence during their triumphant run in the last edition of the tournament.

Manju's limping off the ground on Wednesday relived memories of the 2008 SAAF Cup in the Maldives. “This is really unfortunate. During the last SAAF Cup also, I was ruled out after the first match,” said Manju who has been advised rest for six weeks and will be missing the Durand Cup and the IFA Shield.