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Houghton plays down strikers’ worry

The national football team is currently grappling with the problem of a distracted skipper and the lack of fit strikers. India captain Bhaichung Bhutia again confessed to being perturbed by the ongoing tussle with Mohun Bagan. And two of India’s top strikers, Sunil Chhetri and Sushil Singh, are nursing injuries, reports Anupma Tripathi.

sports Updated: Aug 13, 2009 00:57 IST
Anupma Tripathi

The national football team is currently grappling with the problem of a distracted skipper and the lack of fit strikers. India captain Bhaichung Bhutia again confessed to being perturbed by the ongoing tussle with Mohun Bagan. And two of India’s top strikers, Sunil Chhetri and Sushil Singh, are nursing injuries.

“The matter has been going on for two months now. I am not able to concentrate on the Nehru Cup preparations. I have requested All India Football Federation (AIFF) to find a solution to the matter before the Nehru Cup. I am meeting AIFF officials on August 14,” Bhutia said after a practice session - the team’s first in India this season — at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium here on Wednesday.

India coach Bob Houghton though played it down saying “Bhaichung (Bhutia) is quite mature and I am sure things like these won’t affect him much.”

Houghton didn’t really throw light on Chhetri’s chances of playing but was positive about Sushil doing so. Sushil, he said, has a slight hamstring pull and would be fine before going into the event.

“We have also called striker Subhash Singh and he will be joining us tomorrow. Both Sunil and Sushil will remain in the squad. The rest of the team is fit and I don’t think there is going to be any problem upfront,” Houghton said.

While Chhetri did some light training, Abhishek Yadav, Sushil, Syed Rahim Nabi and Bhutia practised upfront.

Houghton said it is disappointing that the tournament has become a five-nation competition but added, “We will try not to let these things affect our game.

“In hindsight, it’s good for us as we will now be playing at least four matches in the round robin format. We have a good chance of defending the title.”