Indian Football team needs international exposure- Houghton

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Panaji, May 17 (UNI) Indian football team will play series of International exhibition matches, prior to SAFF Cup in Male, Maldives and AFC Challenge Cup in Hyderabad, as a part of their preparation for these events, National football coach Bob Houghton said.

Coaching camp of the Indian team is currently taking place at Cuncolim in South Goa, under the watchful eyes of Mr Houghton.

Coach Bob Houghton and Manager Pradeep Chowdhery, interacting with media persons at Margao, said international exposure is needed for the India team as the players are presently preparing for the SAFF Cup, which will be held next month .

Mr Houghton said the team will start this season, with two exhibition matches against Chinese Taipei, first in Goa at Nehru stadium on May 24 and second will be at Chennai on May 27.

The coach said after two exhibition matches against Chinese Taipe, India will leave for Male on May 31 to participate in the SAFF Cup, which will get underway from June 3.

India will play their first match on June 3 against Nepal, second match against Pakistan on June 5 and third match against Maldives on June 7. The semi finals will be held on June 11 .

The coach said, he is confident that his team will make to the finals, as India is defending champion. The final will be held at Colombo in Sri Lanka on June 14.

After return from Maldives, India team will assemble at the coaching camp in Goa and resume the coaching camp from June 23.

The coach also said, his team, before leaving for AFC Challenge Cup, to be held in Hyderabad from July 31 to August 10, will be going to Portugal on July 1 and during their 15-day stay there will play four practice matches against Portugal clubs.

In Hyderabad, Prior to AFC Challenger Cup India team will play a practice match on July 26 against Zordan or Syria, the coach added.

In all eight teams, besides Host India, DPR Koria, Turkmishtan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Tajikisthan, Afghanistan and Nepal, will participate in the Challenge Cup. The eight teams will be divided into two groups of four teams each.

The coach said out of the 31 players in the coaching camp, the final 20 will be announced later, as some players are plagued with injuries.

After the AFC Challengers Cup, the players will be allowed to play for their respective clubs in the State Professional and I League which will commence from September. This time I League matches will be played on every Saturday and Sunday and state league matches on every Wednesday and Thursday, the coach added.

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