South Korea is Manchester United of Asia: Bhutia

Philem Dipak Singh

Doha, Jan 16 (PTI) Forced to sit out of India''s first twomatches in the ongoing Asian Cup due to an injury, captainBhaichung Bhutia is hoping that he plays in the final groupgame against South Korea on Tuesday.

Bhutia, who took part in the full team training for thesecond consecutive day without any apparent discomfort, saidhe is hoping that he plays for at least a few minutes againstSouth Korea.

"Asian Cup is a big stage, it is mini World Cup for Asia.

And South Korea is like Manchester United of Asia. So, I amhoping to play against South Korea," Bhutia told reportersabout the South Korean team, led by Manchester Unitedmidfielder Park Ji Sung.

"Let us see, I am hoping to play against South Korea atleast for some time," Bhutia said, who is recovering from acalf muscle injury, after team training at Al Wakrah Stadiumat the outskirts of the city.

Team sources said Bhutia, who has not played anycompetitive match since mid September last year, is recoveringfast from the injury.

Bhutia had consulted the Australian team doctor and bloodclots from his leg were also drained out a few days back at alocal hospital, team sources said.

Bhutia said one gain from India''s Asian Cup campaign hasbeen that other countries in Asia and other continents nowknow that India can compete well at big stage.

"It is not only about results. People here and othercountries have now come to know that India can play footballat big stage. Asian Cup is being shown in Brazil, SouthAfrica, Europe, other parts of Asia and they now know thatIndia can play good football," he said.

Coach Bob Houghton said Tuesday''s match against SouthKorea would be a tough test for his boys who have alreadyplayed two matches in four days.

"It will be a tough match. South Korea are a top side inAsia and it would be a tough test for the boys. They have runa lot and they are going to play three matches in eight days.

We are hoping to do well," he said after an hour-long trainingsession.

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