New Delhi: Former England and Manchester
United captain Bryan Robson today advised Indian football team
not to lose heart at being clubbed with Australia and South
Korea in next year`s Asian Cup but to "take up the challenge"
to compete with the best in the continent.
Robson, who is here as coach of Thailand who will play an
international friendly against India tomorrow, said it was an
excellent chance for India to show that they can compete at
the highest level.
"Your team is pitted against two sides which no country
would want to be grouped together. But India should show that
they can compete at the top level, against the best in Asia,"
Robson said at the pre-match press conference.
"It is an excellent chance for India to be able to
compete at the Asian Cup," he added.
He said the All India Football Federation has given
national coach Bob Houghton the right platform to prepare for
the Asian Cup.
"I think the Indian FA has given Bob (Houghton) a great
chance to get his side organised for the 2011 Asian Cup,"
The legendary midfielder, who had coached four English
Premier League sides before taking the reigns of Thailand
national team, praised Indian striker Sunil Chhetri for his
fine show in the first international friendly in Bangkok which
his side won 1-0.
"You have a very good striker (Chhetri). But when playing
with strong opponents you should not waste chances. I have
been telling to my players that good players should kill
matches when they get chances," he said, referring to
Chhetri`s effort just before half time which hit the crossbar
"India are are compact, disciplined and we found it very
difficult to break them down. The goalkeeper (Subrata Paul)
was very good, he made some outstanding saves," Robson said.
"It is going to a tight game tomorrow and the side who
takes the chances will win," he said.
Robson had come here with only five senior national side
players with some of the first team players left out due to
AFC Cup engagements.
Star striker Sarayoot Chaikumdee, who scored the winning
goal in Bangkok, has been left out as well as key midfielder
Datsakorn Thonglao and defender Panupong Wongsa who captained
the side in the first match.
"National team players are released for club engagements.
Thai League champion Muathong has about nine national team
players. We had to release some of them for AFC Cup
quarterfinal match," Robson explained.