Bhutia expects more international matches after I-League
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The Indian football team has not played a single international match after the AFC Challenge Cup triumph last August but captain Bhaichung Bhutia expects a number of games after the I-League finishes.
Coach Bob Houghton had said after the AFC Challenge Cup that India will play at least 10 internationals but with the season almost half-way through only one friendly -- on January 14 against Hong Kong -- is being scheduled.
Bhaichung hoped that India would play more international matches before they defend their title in Nehru Cup likely to be held in August this year.
"I can't say why there have not been more international matches. Bob (Houghton) and All India Football Federation (AIFF) must have plans in place. I expect more international matches after the I-League (which will end in March) and before the Nehru Cup," Bhaichung said from Goa.
The 'Sikkimese Sniper' was though upbeat that India will play against Hong Kong, a team ranked higher at 125th as against India's 144 in FIFA chart.
"We have been playing against teams lower or identical to our rank. It is a right step to go up the ladder and start playing against better and higher ranked teams.
"We know Bob (Houghton) thinks of interest of India's football and I think he would go for more such matches."
Bhaichung, who injured himself during the Federation Cup in Kolkata last December and did not play in the final match which his side Mohun Bagan won, will be missing most of the nine-day national camp which started on January 2 but said there was no reason to worry.
"I am yet to take part in proper team training. The team doctor is looking after me and I will start normal training in another two or three days. Till now it is just some light workout," Bhutia said.