`Asian Cup showing will see Indian football in better light`

Updated: Jan 15, 2011, 15:27 PM IST

Doha: India football coach Bob Houghton
feels the performance of his boys at the Asian Cup would see
the sport in the country in a better light after this
tournament.

Houghton praised the indomitable spirit of his players
and said their warrior-like fight in the continental showpiece
event would help raise the profile of football back home.

"It`s a tough group and it`s a big challenge for us to
play against opponents like ours. A lot of people who watch
the matches live will see India in a different light after
this tournament," Houghton said.

"They would not have thought of beating the likes of
Australia, South Korea and Bahrain. But they must be happy
that their team did not give up and they fought like warriors.
That is very good for the reputation of Indian football," he
said.

He said India`s time in Qatar has been an extremely
positive experience though they lost 0-4 against formidable
Australians and 2-5 against Bahrain.

Australia are the highest ranked side in Asia at 26th in
the FIFA charts. Bahrain are seventh-ranked side in Asia and
93rd in the world while India are 144th in FIFA charts.

"This tournament is good for us for two reasons. First it
shows that our federation and sports authorities need to step
up and we need to have more infrastructure. The second one is
that I believe it is good for the profile of football in India
and it will be helped by this," he said.

Houghton said his players were more confident against
Bahrain than against Australia and so they had more chances to
score against the Gulf side.

"We did not have many chances against Australia, they
have several big player from EPL sides. But against Bahrain we
had chances. The boys had more confidence on the ball against
Bahrain than against Australia," said the 63-year-old
Englishman.

"We played very well in the second half. We scored a goal
and nearly added another when the scoreline was 4-2. It could
have been an interesting end for the game had we taken our
chances," he said.

"We started very well but the penalty (from which Bahrain
scored their first goal) was a setback. I thought the penalty
decision was a bit harsh. But we worked hard and kept going,"
he added.

Houghton had special praise for midfielder Renedy Singh
and Abhishek Yadav who both came in as second half substitutes
against Australia but started against Bahrain.

"Renedy and Abhishek were outstanding and I had to
replace Renedy because I did not want him get injured.
Renedy`s goal was I thought had crossed the goal-line. It was
like that of Frank Lampard (in 2010 World Cup England vs
Germany). The linesman did not see it," he said.

The experienced coach said it did not cross his mind that
Bhaichung could have been brought in the second half when
India had scored to make it 2-4.

"The two strikers were playing excellent Abhishek was
outstanding and Chhetri as usual was impressive. At 2-4, there
was a time that we thought we could have made 3-4. But it did
not cross my mind that Bhaichung could have come in. May be
Bhaichung could have made a difference. But may be," he said.

Asked about India`s match against South Korea on Tuesday,
Houghton said, "Let us see. We hope we do well against South
Korea. It is very tough for the boys to play three matches in
eight days at this level."

PTI