| Houghton |
New Delhi: National coach Bob Houghton once again took a dig at the ground conditions after India went down to Lebanon by a solitary goal in the opening Nehru Cup match at the Ambedkar Stadium, here, on Wednesday.
The British coach, under whom India won back-to-back titles in the last two years at the same venue, said his team would never be able to play good football unless the organisers do something to improve the ground conditions.
The grass on the ground is too high, said the Indian coach. I would rather tell the tournament committee to mow over the grass if they want the spectators to watch some good football.
He was of the opinion that his team could not play too many good passes on the ground because of the grass. It was difficult to go for field goals. One had to look for set piece moves, he commented.
The Indian coach admitted losing the first match in a five-team round robin tournament could turn out to be a disadvantage for the hosts. But then, all is not over yet. We still have three matches in hand and we will get ample opportunities to turn it around.
I am satisfied with the performance of my boys. The early goal by Lebanon made the difference, said Houghton.
Asked why he replaced Sushil Singh, who did reasonably well in the opening half, the Indian coach said that was the understanding while planning the strategy back in the dressing room.
In the last three months, Sunil did not play more than 45 minutes in any match, he said. We thought we will bring him in only in the second half. The coach said he was still not in a position to say whether there would be any change in the second match against Kyrgyzstan.
Meanwhile, defender NS Manju who fractured a toe on his left foot on Wednesday, is out of the tournament.