Houghton unhappy with schedule and practice ground

July 29th, 2008 - 8:20 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
Hyderabad, July 29 (IANS) India’s chief football coach Bob Houghton blasted the organisers of the AFC Challenge Cup for the cramped schedule and poor practice facilities and said these irritants can have an effect on the performance of the players. Houghton, after seeing the condition of the practice ground, minced no words on the eve of the tournament. The Englishman was shocked to see a slushy outfield and uncut grass at the Gosha Mahal Ground Monday evening.

“It is a disaster. If you are splashing the headlines ‘Coach slams AIFF for worst facilities’, you are welcome,” Houghton said Tuesday.

The Indian team’s practice was shifted to the Gymkhana Grounds in Secunderabad Tuesday morning, which was just a shade better.

Houghton, who had blamed the cramped scheduling after India lost the SAFF Cup final to Maldives, said the scheduling of the matches here, too, could have been better.

“It becomes difficult for the players to play in such a tight schedule. The cramped schedule will take a toll on them towards the business end of the tournament,” Houghton said.

“We will play three matches in five days and it will be very tough for the boys. We had the same problem during the SAFF Cup where the boys didn’t get enough rest between matches,” he added.

India, who are in Group A, take on Afghanistan in the Cup opener Wednesday at the Gachibowli Stadium. The hosts will then play defending champions Tajikistan, Friday and they will play Turkmenistan in their last group match Sunday.

If the hosts qualify for the knockout stage, they will have a two-day break before the semi-finals slated for Aug 7. The final is on Aug 10.

Houghton felt that the 23-member squad instead of the usual 21-member allowed by the AFC will come in handy when you have such an excruciating schedule.

“With a 23-member squad we have a choice to rotate the players, giving enough rest to them,” he said.

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