Houghton defends his reserves after 0-1 loss to Syria

New Delhi, Aug 29 (Inditop.com) India coach Bob Houghton defended his reserve players despite their lacklustre performance in the 0-1 loss to Syria in the last group match of the ONGC Nehru Cup football tournament here Saturday.

Houghton made five changes to the side that played against Sri Lanka, keeping the top players fresh for Monday’s final against Syria.

“Are you criticising my front players?” an infuriated Houghton shot back when asked about the performance of his strikers Abhishek Yadav and Sushil Singh.

“They were playing after a long time and so it wasn’t an easy match for them but they battled it out well. It is a good sign for the team,” he maintained.

Houghton also said that Syria, who made three changes in their side, were a better side Saturday.

“The loss will motivate us for Monday’s final and hopefully we will come back strong,” he added.

The coach also admitted that conceding goals from set-pieces remains a concern for the Indian team. The Indian defence was caught napping when an unmarked Ali Dyab headed in from an accurate free-kick to score the winner for Syria.

“I have always maintained that set-pieces are the problem for India and we can only solve it when we have taller and well-built players,” he contended.