Bhutia not to play against Bahrain, Houghton to make changes
Bhaichung Bhutia will sit out of India`s second Asian Cup.
Doha: Talismanic captain Bhaichung Bhutia will sit out of India`s second Asian Cup match against Bahrain as he is yet to be fully fit and coach Bob Houghton will also rest some players who played in the opener against Australia.
Houghton said Bhutia, who also missed out of the opening match against Australia, may play in India`s third and final Group C game against South Korea on January 18.
"There is no chance of Bhaichung playing against Bahrain. He may play in the match against South Korea," Houghton said.
Bhutia did not take part in the training session at the Al Wakra facilities at the outskirts of the city today while his team-mates had a one-hour work-out.
Houghton said he would rest some players who played against Australia so that they are not tired for the third group match against South Korea.
"It is difficult for almost the same set of boys to play in three matches. So we are giving rest to some boys and making changes. If the same boys who played against Australia are fielded against Bahrain, you will not get fresh legs for the South Korea match," he said.
"I saw the video (of first match) and the players ran about 10 to 11 km, which is about thrice the distance the players run in an I-League match. It`s an awful lot of running and it takes a toll. If you see the injuries we have had, most of them have been muscle which is primarily down to the
intensity of the training," he said.
The 63-year-old Englishman said he and the players have watched video footage of the matches Bahrain played recently, including their 1-2 loss against Japan in the ongoing Asian Cup and the Gulf side would be tough customers.
"I watched Bahrain against UAE and Syria in the build-up to the Asian Cup. They have a few African boys which means they are tough and a physical side though they were dominated by Japan in their opening Asian Cup match. It will be a tough match as Bahrain could not make it to the FIFA World Cup in play-off," he said.
Asked about goalkeeper Subrata Paul producing yet another good performance under the bar in the match against Australia, Houghton said, Subrata will get to play outside the country.
"He had gone for trials but the question is really about the size. Most of the goalkeepers in the international arena are really big."
He said the match against Australia was the toughest for his side after he took charge in 2006 and reiterated that the first goal was off-side.
"It was not just off-side of one player. Two were off-side. Brett Emerton was off-side before he sent the cross and Tim Cahill, who scored the goal, was also off-side," Houghton said.