Haughton unhappy over venue, criticises AFC scheduling

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Chennai,Oct 27 (UNI) Indian football team Chief Coach Bob Houghton today criticised the scheduling of the World Cup Qualifier matches by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Talking to newspersons after a practice session by the team here on the eve of India's home match against Lebanon in the preliminary competition for 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he said the new format prepared by the AFC was such that half the Asian teams would be out of the qualifiers in 2007 itself without really contesting.

''It's dreadful on several Asian countries. The new format has affected the premier leagues of many countries. We have been preparing the team well over the past few months. They were playing in tournaments. Now this match has affected our preparations.

There was no time for our national team to regroup and play. Our league stands postponed by two months. It's ridiculous,'' he charged.

Houghton also expressed his unhappiness at Chennai being selected as the venue for the home match.

''I have nothing against this city. We have not played here before. The team has played in front of a capacity crowd in New Delhi. There was a totally different positive environment there. The home advantage must be helpful for the team, '' he observed.

''I am saying this for hitting the headlines tomorrow'', he added.

Houghton said it was unbelievable that a vast country like India has only one stadium which fulfils the stipulations of FIFA. The Chinese city of Shanghai has at least five stadiums of international standard,'' he added.

It may be recalled that FIFA stipulates separate seats for the spectators, total security for the players and Chennai was chosen after FIFA officials inspected it six months back.

Earlier, Indian team had to wait for their turn to practice at the high security American International School for nearly an hour. The Lebanon team was given time from 13.30 hrs in the afternoon. But it arrived late and started practicing from 1530 hrs.

The Indian team which reached the venue half an hour earlier had to wait in the team bus. Houghton was left fuming and expressed his unhappiness with the condition of the ground at the school, following heavy monsoon rains.

The Lebanese had earlier insisted on practising at a ground close to the venue. But as stipulated by FIFA, Nehru stadium do not have this practice facility. Later they were shown a ground near to the stadum but refused to go there due to the unplayable conditions.

UNI

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