Stung India eye revenge

Stung India eye revenge

Bob Houghton’s side lost 0-1 to a Thailand side which was a mix of senior and under-23 players in Bangkok on Saturday and the home side would now seek to make it even stevens at Ambedkar Stadium.

Thailand are 34 places above India at 104th at FIFA rankings having played more international matches than their opponents but their coach Bryan Robson admitted that it would be a tight match on the morrow considering that he is fielding an experimental team in the run-up to the Asian Games in November.

Houghton and his boys would be happy that they have returned to their favourite ground where they have won three international titles — two back-to-back Nehru Cup triumphs in 2007 and 2009 and the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 which ensured them an AFC Asian Cup qualification after 26 years.

The football lovers of the country’s capital though will miss captain and star striker Bhaichung Bhutia who is still not fully fit. Bhaichung, who did not play in Bangkok, is unlikely to play in the next two matches here — against Namibia on September 15 and against Gambia on September 19.

Asked if Bhaichung can play by September 19, Houghton said, “We have to see, he is trying to be match fit. He is not playing tomorrow for sure. But surely he will play a role in the AFC Asian Cup in January.”

Houghton is unlikely to make many changes in the starting line-up of the last match with the goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who had a brilliant game in Bangkok, certain to man the goal. Striker Chhetri is a certain starter and so is his partner Rafi.

The only likely change could be that of the left-back position with Houghton having the option to bring back NS Manju in place of veteran Mahesh Gawli.

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