Bhaichung may be rested for crucial tie against Tajikistan

July 31st, 2008 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
Hyderabad, July 31 (IANS) India’s football captain Bhaichung Bhutia may be rested for the crucial tie against defending champions Tajikistan in the AFC Challenge Cup here Friday. Coach Bob Houghton is contemplating to replace Bhaichung with young forward Sushil Singh. But the coach is keeping his cards close to chest and will reveal the final team only hours before the match, according to sources in the team.

“The coach feels that since the fixture is very cramped players should be given rest. Accordingly we have to give Bhaichung enough rest so that he stores his best for the rest of the tournament,” the source told IANS.

But even if the national captain is rested, India is not in a good position ahead of their crucial tie.

If the news of Steven Dias’ return has brought back cheers in the face of Houghton, injury to another link-man N.P. Pradeep will surely give the Englishman much food to thought. Pradeep will be replaced by Baldeep Singh and in the defence Mahesh Gawli will also make his return after recovering from injury in place of an injured Deepak Mondal.

Dias will play his first international match after getting injured in the second match of the SAFF Cup in Maldives in June. The mid-fielders’ absence was being felt on the left flank in the last few international matches. Bungo Singh, who replaced Dias in the first match against Afghanistan failed to impress.

Dias’ role as a play-maker will surely boost India’s chances but Pradeep’s scoring abilities will also be missed.

After the team’s practice session at the Goshamal Police Stadium, Thursday, Houghton said that he has watched the footage of the first match between Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, but declined to reveal any plans.

“We have made some plans after watching the tapes. But what I can say now is that we can’t afford to miss the chances as we did against Afghanistan. We have to play very well and have to get full points out of it,” he said.

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