South Korea is Manchester United of Asia: Bhutia

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2011, 18:40 PM IST

Doha: Forced to sit out of India`s first two
matches in the ongoing Asian Cup due to an injury, captain
Bhaichung Bhutia is hoping that he plays in the final group
game against South Korea on Tuesday.

Bhutia, who took part in the full team training for the
second consecutive day without any apparent discomfort, said
he is hoping that he plays for at least a few minutes against
South Korea.

"Asian Cup is a big stage, it is mini World Cup for Asia.
And South Korea is like Manchester United of Asia. So, I am
hoping to play against South Korea," Bhutia told reporters
about the South Korean team, led by Manchester United
midfielder Park Ji Sung.

"Let us see, I am hoping to play against South Korea at
least for some time," Bhutia said, who is recovering from a
calf muscle injury, after team training at Al Wakrah Stadium
at the outskirts of the city.

Team sources said Bhutia, who has not played any
competitive match since mid September last year, is recovering
fast from the injury.

Bhutia had consulted the Australian team doctor and blood
clots from his leg were also drained out a few days back at a
local hospital, team sources said.

Bhutia said one gain from India`s Asian Cup campaign has
been that other countries in Asia and other continents now
know that India can compete well at big stage.

"It is not only about results. People here and other
countries have now come to know that India can play football
at big stage. Asian Cup is being shown in Brazil, South
Africa, Europe, other parts of Asia and they now know that
India can play good football," he said.

Coach Bob Houghton said Tuesday`s match against South
Korea would be a tough test for his boys who have already
played two matches in four days.

"It will be a tough match. South Korea are a top side in
Asia and it would be a tough test for the boys. They have run
a lot and they are going to play three matches in eight days.
We are hoping to do well," he said after an hour-long training
session.

PTI