Male, Maldives, Jun 12: Defending champions India are struggling to cope with injuries to key players ahead of the SAFF Cup final against co-hosts Maldives on June 14.
Houghton substituted Steven Dias in the second half and fears that the midfielder along with three more players could miss the final match in Colombo. ''Steven, Renedy, Climax and Manju could miss the final due to injury,'' Houghton told mediapersons after India beat Bhutan 2-1 in the semi-final here yesterday. NS Manju limped off the pitch with a hamstring injury during India's opening match against Nepal and is yet to recover.
With wingers Renedy Singh and Steven Dias missing along with attacking mid-fielder Climax Lawrence, the Indian line-up wears a distinctly depleted look and could struggle to overcome a strong Maldivian side.
To compound Houghton's problems, the strikers are not in great touch either with Bhaichung Bhutia and company wasting several chances to score in yesterday's match.
Meanwhile, Maldives coach Joseph Jankech is confident of a good show in the final.
''We played very good football against India (in the group stage) and we lost because we were unlucky that day,'' he said.
''As a coach I want to win all the matches under my guidance and we are going to the finals to win the cup.'' UNI XC AB RAR RAI1655