Knee injury rules Anthony Pereira out of Asian Cup football

New Delhi: Indian football team`s Asian Cup
preparations suffered a big jolt with key winger Anthony
Pereira ruled out of next month`s continental showpiece due to
a knee ligament tear.

The nippy player, who can play on both left and right
wing according to match situation, will return to his hometown
Goa tomorrow from Dubai where the national team has been
training since early last month in the tune-up to the January
7-29 meet in Doha.

"In-form India international winger Anthony Pereira
suffered an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear during a
training session and has been ruled out of the AFC Asian Cup
2011 in Qatar," a release from the All India Football
Federation said.

Officials of Pereira`s club, Dempo, told PTI that the
injury is serious and he is also likely to miss I-League
matches for the whole of January.

"It is a serious injury and we don`t know how long it
will take for Pereira to recover. But it seems he will not be
able to play I-League matches for long. He will be out at
least for January," a Dempo official said from Goa.

Pereira has been a vital cog in coach Bob Houghton`s
scheme of things. He has been a standout performer in India`s
recent international friendlies, with his raw pace creating
problems for opposition defenders.

He was voted the fittest player in domestic circuit in
September at the Football Players` Association of India

Houghton`s side is grappling with injury worries with
at least half a dozen players, including skipper Bhaichung
Bhutia, on the casualty list.

Striker Mohammad Rafi had a muscle pull this morning
while Baljeet Singh suffered a wrist injury during practice
yesterday but according to team sources, it is "not so
serious". Central midfielder N P Pradeep and another winger
Steven Dias, too, have been struggling with injuries.

The good news, however, is that the experienced Renedy
Singh, injured for a long time now, has started training, and
so did Rakesh Masih.

Bhutia and Sameer Naik, who had gone to Chennai to get
their calf muscle injuries treated by sports medicine expert
Kanan Pugazhendi, have joined the team and are expected to
resume training in the next three-four days.

India are scheduled to play Syria in an international
friendly on December 26 in Dubai.