Mehrajuddin defends coach Houghton

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New Delhi, Jun 27 (UNI) Blaming injuries for the loss to Maldives in the final of the SAFF Cup, Team India mid-fielder Mehrajuddin Wadoo has thrown his weight behind under-fire coach Bob Houghton.

''I am very much with coach Bob Houghton. It was unfortunate that we lost the SAFF Cup. Look at the number of injured players we had,'' Wadoo told

''Maldives played the same eleven in all their games which was a major factor in their eventual triumph. It wasn't that we didn't play well. We conceded the goal in the 87th minute of a final despite playing with so many changes,'' he added.

The sturdy Kashmiri player was bemused at criticisms levelled by former Indian coach Syed Nayeemuddin who had branded him as a 'bad player'.

''Blatant criticism doesn't help anyone's cause - neither for me as a player to improve or for Mr Nayemuddin's image. I was first selected for the national squad by Mr Nayeemuddin from a camp where 40 boys had come. Thereby, I was in the playing eleven during his reign,'' Wadoo stated.

''In the last SAFF Cup, I played all the games and even scored the winning goal in the finals. Everyone praised my skills then.

Suddenly, I have become a bad player! That surprises me. If he (Nayeemuddin) has any suggestions, they are welcome but undue attack is of zero value.'' The East Bengal medio is currently in Delhi with the national camp in preparation for the AFC Challenge Cup to be held next month in Hyderabad.


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