NP Pradeep blames injuries, luck for SAFF Cup loss

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New Delhi, Jun 17 (UNI) Disappointed after losing the final of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup to the Maldives, talented Indian midfielder NP Pradeep said a combination of injuries and bad luck was responsible for the debacle.

''It was bad luck that we lost to Maldives in the finals. I missed two chances and am very disappointed with that,'' Pradeep told Goal.com.

The 24-year-old from Kerala attributed the loss to injuries to key players which had hit the team hard.

''Renedy bhai and Steven were a big loss. With them surely things would have been different. They always put the ball in the box.

Without them, that service was missing,'' Pradeep rued.

The Nehru Cup hero also mentioned that the crowd support for the Maldives national side was immense.

''For the finals, some 5000 people flew from Maldives to Sri Lanka. They just had to pay the air fare. The rest was taken care of. Guess by whom? The Maldives government,'' an amazed Pradeep said.

The midfielder was one of the star performers for the Indian team at the SAFF Cup and was pleased to have represented his country after the recent injury worries.

''Playing for the national side is always very inspirational,'' he said. ''Coming back from the injury, I managed four goals in five games which I feel is very impressive. But it counts to nothing for having lost the finals.'' Pradeep had suffered a bruised right knee during the final and is in recovery mode before getting back into action.

''I have been advised to rest for the next 10 days. The camp starts on the 22nd,'' he stated.

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