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Pal is still the best: Houghton

sports Updated: Jul 26, 2009 23:21 IST

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Their first match of the season left Bob Houghton happy but the India coach let his incredulity show at No 1 goalie Subrata Pal being used sparingly in the last I-League.

After Saturday evening’s 1-1 draw against Spanish third division side Unió Esportiva Castelldefels near here, Houghton justified Pal playing the full game, saying: “He (Pal) just played around 10 matches all season for his club, while Subhasish (Roy Chowdhury) and Arindam (Bhattacharya) played nearly all the I-League games.

He is the best, a very gifted keeper but sometimes one doesn’t know what happens in Kolkata.”

Benched for most of last season by East Bengal, Pal moved to Pune FC this time around.

On the match, which India led by Surkumar Singh’s 24th minute strike before conceding through a penalty in the second half, Houghton said: “It was a good game. We have been together for just over three weeks and we needed to make a careful start to the season. It was good as everyone except Govin (Singh) and Jagpreet (Singh) got to play.

And that is what such games are about.

To get back into match rhythm and also give the boys who are not in the first XI the chance to play and show themselves.”

Houghton had replaced everyone but Pal in the second half.

India skipper Bhaichung Bhutia too was happy with the performance. “It’s about commitment and everybody showed it. And also fitness-wise we are getting there. These matches are their to prepare for the Nehru Cup, but we would like to win them as well,” he said.

Bhutia made special mention of his young strike partner Sushil Singh.

“The youngsters are really doing well and especially Sushil Singh.

“He has done fantastically well throughout the camp and showed it today on the field too.”