On the eve of India’s campaign in the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 Qualifiers, coach Bob Houghton believes that the young squad named in the tournament does have a decent chance of finishing as the top two which shall ensure a place in the main tournament next year.
India are grouped alongside Chinese Taipei, Turkmenistan and Pakistan, all of whom are ranked below the 145th ranked nation.
“It will be a closely fought tournament and there will be tough competition and we hope to qualify. We have played all the three teams earlier and they were all close games.
“This will be useful for the World Cup qualifiers in June,” said the Englishman.
However due to the domestic league fixtures, India didn’t have much time to prepare for the qualifiers. Houghton, to the surprise of many, made several changes to the squad which played at the 2011 Asian Cup and mentioned that the discards would get an opportunity when he chooses his team for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers later this year.
“It is a nice team. We did not have much training and the team came early to Malaysia. Almost half of the players are from the I-League teams.
“Most of the players who played in the Asian Cup and are not here will be in reckoning for the World Cup qualifiers.
“It is a good experience for the youngsters like Jeje & Raju who will play tomorrow (Monday),” added the 62 year old.