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Bhutia under pressure ahead of Nehru Cup opener

sports Updated: Aug 18, 2009 21:50 IST

India's football captain Bhaichung Bhutia said he could do without the off-field problems and tensions ahead of a major international tournament like Nehru Cup.

Bhutia said his ongoing tussle with Mohun Bagan has put him under 'tremendous pressure', something which he has never faced in his decade-long career.

"I haven't been paid and suspended for six month. On Wednesday we have a tough match against Lebanon and do you expect me to be in the right frame of mind?" Bhutia said to reporters after the practice session.

Bhaichung has been slapped a six-month suspension notice by Mohun Bagan for missing practice sessions and an exhibition match.

The footballer then inked a one-year contract with East Bengal and has appealed to the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) players' status committee against his suspension. But AIFF president Praful Patel asked general secretary Alberto Colaco to look into the matter and find a solution soon.

Bhutia hoped the matter would be resolved soon and was also optimistic about India's chances in defending the title.

On the opening game against Lebanon, Bhutia said: "We were unlucky against them in the World Cup qualifiers in 2007. The most interesting part is that we took the first lead in both the home and away matches. But 2007 is past and now we are better prepared."

Bhutia will also have a new partner in Sushil Kumar, who will be replacing the injured Sunil Chettri.

"Sushil had a good pre-season and if he continues with his form it will be good for the team. In the last one year, he has grown in confidence as a player," he said.