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Houghton confident of Asia Cup qualification

New Delhi, Aug 12 (UNI) India football coach Bob Houghton is confident that his wards will emerge triumphant in the AFC Challenge Cup final tomorrow at the Ambedkar Stadium and qualify for the 2011 Asia Cup.

''The boys have delivered in crunch situations. They have worked very hard and if everything goes alright we will win tomorrow,'' Houghton told UNI here today.

''This is the best chance we have to qualify for the Asia Cup. We are hoping for the best,'' he added.

Pointing to India's performance at the international-level in recent times, Houghton said, ''The boys have improved a lot. We lost only three of the last 27 matches we have played. We defeated a higher ranked Syria in the Nehru Cup.'' The 60-year-old English man showered praise on talismanic striker Baichung Bhutia, who has been in superlative form in recent times.

''Baichung has been in superb form. He has delivered at crucial moments. He played a crucial role in the Nehru Cup win. We are hoping he will fire tomorrow,'' he stated.

The veteran coach, however, sounded a note of caution ahead of the summit clash against Tajikistan.

''Tajikistan are a good side. They defeated North Korea in their last match. Technically, they are a very good side. But we are confident, let us see.'' The final, which was earlier scheduled to be held at Gacchibowli stadium in Hyderabad, has been shifted to the capital due to incessant rains which made the ground unplayable.


Story first published: Tuesday, August 12, 2008, 15:16 [IST]
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