Houghton hopeful of good show

India were clubbed in Group C along with 2010 World Cup qualifiers Australia and South Korea, and Bahrain, who just missed the showpiece event in South Africa in a play-off, in the draw in Doha on Friday, but Houghton said his men can be competitive against Asia’s top sides.

“Australia and Korea are two teams any coach would want to avoid being drawn alongside his team. The ranking itself speaks about the difference in standards. Bahrain also are good. Still we’ll try to put up the best effort,” Houghton said.

India will open their campaign against Australia on January 10. They play Bahrain on January 14 before facing South Korea on January 18 in their last group match. “The overall performance of the team has been improving steadily. We punched way above our weight in the recent tournaments. That’ll motivate our players. But still we’ve a long way to go,” he added.

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