Houghton Blames Ambedkar Turf for Loss Against Lebanon


New Delhi, Aug 20: India coach Bob Houghton blamed Ambedkar Stadium turf for the defending champions' 0-1 loss to Lebanon in the ONGC Nehru Cup opener here on Wednesday.

India conceded an early goal in the fourth minute off a Ali Al Saad free-kick. Houghton pointed out that due to the tall grass in the stadium the ball lost its pace, making it difficult to build the moves.

"I was surprised that the organisers didn't cut the grass. It is an international standard everywhere. It was difficult to score field goals on such a turf because the passing game was not possible. On such a ground you can only score from set-pieces and Lebanon were lucky," Houghton said.

The Englishman said the early goal proved a set-back for India but praised his players for putting up an impressive performance in the second half.

"Except the early goal, we created more opportunities. And we were the better team in the second half," he said.

Houghton started with four new changes in his starting eleven that last played the AFC Challenge Cup final. He rejigged the midfield by bringing in Surkumar Singh and newcomer Anthony Pereira, N.S. Manju in the defence and Sushil upront in place of Chettri.

On his gamble to field injured striker Sunil Chettri in the second half, Houghton said: "It was pre-planned. We had to replace Sushil at some point in the game and we decided to do it in the second half."

"We brought in Sunil because he hasn't played more than 45 minutes in any game. So, I tried to test him out and see where he stands. We will also check him in the second match and then decide how long he can play."

Houghton also said he was happy with the performance of newcomer Anthony, who was playing his second international match.



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Title: Houghton Blames Ambedkar Turf for Loss Against Lebanon

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