Houghton plans to target tougher opposition

Houghton said defending the Nehru Cup title by beating Syria would boost his side, which will now look to play countries like China, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman.

“We beat Syria today and they are a quality side and among the top 10 Asian countries.
“Our aim now is to do well in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Doha. We will now plan to play countries like China, Uzbekistan, UAE, Bahrain and Oman as our preparation for the Asian Cup,” he said after India beat Syria 6-5 via penalty shootout.

“Japan, Australia and South Korea are in top tier. We are not thinking of playing against them right now,” he added. An elated Houghton was all praise for his boys, saying they deserved the hat-trick of international titles in just over two years.

“It was a dramatic final today. The boys played for two hours without losing focus and they come up with a win, though in the penalty shootout. These are really committed players. They deserve these three title in three years,” he said.

Praising custodian Subrata Paul for saving three penalty shots, Houghton said, “I have said earlier he is the best goalkeeper in the country. He had a great tournament. He saved three penalty shots today.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi Soccer Association’s (DSA) bid to fill the Ambedkar Stadium by distributing free passes back-fired as hundreds of ticket-holders were denied entry into an already packed venue to watch the final.

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