India gave its best when mattered, says Houghton

August 3rd, 2008 - 11:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
Hyderabad, Aug 3 (IANS) India coach Bob Houghton Sunday termed his team’s win against Turkmenistan as one of the best performances in tough conditions that helped them book a semi-final berth in the AFC Challenge Cup football. “It was an honest performance by a very hard working team under adverse conditions. It was very good and I am pleased with it,” Houghton told reporters after India defeated Turkmenistan 2-1 and emerged as Group A toppers.

Soggy ground due to overnight rain and intermittent drizzle made life miserable for both teams at the Gachibowli Stadium. Players hardly found a solid footing and slipped while taking shots. But despite all odds, India dominated the game and captain Bhaichung Bhutia struck twice to ensure a semifinal berth and avoid the possibility of facing North Korea in the last four.

The defence was rock solid and Houghton showered praise on two young central defenders - Anwar Ali and Gourmangi Singh.

Houghton said it was one of the best performances, given the tough conditions.

“It was the best performance because the conditions were difficult. I was afraid that had it rained for another half hour before the start of the game, the match would have been called off,” he added.

Asked what he told the boys after a dominant goalless first half, Houghton said: “It is very tough to continue with the same vigour if you have dominated the first half. I asked them to keep things straight.”

The 60-year-old Englishman went on to add that he would be eagerly looking at the outcome of Monday’s match between Myanmar and North Korea, which will determine India’s semi-final opponent.

Houghton was also hopeful that midfielders N.P. Pradeep and Steven Dias, both of whom sustained injuries during the match, would be fit for Thursday’s semi-final.

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