Bhutia still uncertain ahead of Bahrain clash

Last Updated: Jan 11, 2011, 18:20 PM IST

Doha: Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia
remains a doubtful starter ahead of their Friday`s match
against Bahrain in the Asian Cup football tournament as he has
still not recovered completely from his calf muscle injury,
coach Bob Houghton said.

"I don`t know whether Bhaichung would be fit for second
match or not. But there is still time to know if he can play.
As of now we are going with a plan that he will be fit for the
last league match," Houghton told reporters.

Houghton had named Bhaichung in the 23-member squad
despite the Indian captain suffering from a long-standing calf
muscle injury.

Bhaichung, on his part, said he is hoping he can play
against Bahrain and but added that the team management would
take a call later.

"I am trying to be fit for the Bahrain match. I am hoping
to play but let us see," said the 34-year-old skipper.

Indians players, who were a part of the opening match
against Australia, had a rest day today but the others,
including Bhutia had a training session at the Al Wakrah
center at the outskirts of the city.

Unlike other players, Bhutia only had a light training.
He did not stretch himself much and just warmed up with light
running. He then ran with the ball, apparently trying to judge
how far he has recovered from the calf muscle injury.

Houghton said if India were to compete with the likes of
Australia or South Korea and even China, they have to improve
the infrastructure and spend money on youth development.

"National team will have to improve if you want to
improve the profile of Indian football. When the national team
becomes successful, the interest in football will follow it,"
said the 63-year-old Englishman.

"I hope the fact that we`ve managed to get to the Asian
Cup for the first time after 27 years will encourage the
government and the federation to spend money on training
facilities, youth development, etc. In India we don`t have it
and you can`t produce good players if you have no facilities,"
he said.

PTI