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India eye revenge against Thailand

sports Updated: Sep 08, 2010 01:32 IST
Anupma Tripathi

India coach Bob Houghton may well feel that the country's stadia are under par but it is at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Wednesday that his boys will look to avenge last Saturday's 0-1 away loss to Thailand.

The exercise is part of the build-up to the AFC Asian Cup final in Doha, Qatar, next January. Asia's biggest football tournament will be held from January 7-29. India have qualified for the finals of this 16-team competition for the first time since 1984.

As in Bangkok, India will be without skipper Bhaichung Bhutia who isn't yet match fit. "He is surely out of the match but will be fit in time for the Asian Cup," said Houghton.

India are likely to start with the same XI that began in Thailand.

Renedy Singh has pulled a hamstring muscle at training on Monday and is out if the match, manager Pradeep Choudhury said. Climax Lawrence, therefore, will again get the captain's armband. Barring Sameer Naik, who is recovering from a calf muscle injury, everyone is fit and available, the manger said.

India gave the Thais a tough time especially during the second half in Bangkok before conceding the decisive goal in the 73rd minute. Thailand coach Bryan Robson praised their performance of striker Sunil Chhetri, who recently joined the team after being loaned by Major League Soccer side Kansas City Wizards, and goalkeeper Subrata Pal.

"We had a very good match in Bangkok," said Houghton after the team's practice session on Monday. "We had lot of positives considering that we were playing our first international match after the Portugal tour."

Keeping in mind the Asian Games in China in November, Thailand are fielding a mix of senior and under-23 players. "I want to experiment," said Robson, who was Manchester United's longest serving captain.

"We are using five senior players from the first team. I used six in Bangkok and I have brought five from the senior side for Wednesday's match."

Star striker Sarayoot Chaikumdee, who scored the winning goal at the Yamaha

Stadium, midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao and defender Panupong Wongsa, who captained the side in Bangkok, have been rested. Nattaporn Pharnit, the senior side captain, and goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan have been brought back.

Asked to predict a result, Robson said: "India have the home advantage but I think my players are a lot quicker, which just might turn the match in our favour."

Watch India v Thailand LIVE today on Zee Sports, 6.30pm onwards.