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ASEAN meet a big test for Indian soccer: Bhutia
July 07, 2003 19:29 IST
Star striker Baichung Bhutia on Monday said the upcoming ASEAN club football championship will be a big test not just for East Bengal but for Indian football as well.
Bhutia, the only Indian to play as a professional in England for second division side FC Bury two seasons back, is confident that National Football League champions East Bengal will put up an impressive performance in the inaugural edition of the ASEAN Club tournament in Indonesia.
"It is a big tournament for us and we have been preparing hard for the last one month. We have got a real good chance to do well and there will be good competition with some strong teams participating," Bhutia said, analysing the champion club's chances in the July 13-26 tournament.
"The tournament will be important not just for East Bengal but for Indian football as well, as it is a good chance to make a mark in Asia. So we will be more positive," said Bhutia, who was in Delhi to endorse the Kingfisher Corporate 5's football tournament.
Bhutia, who will leave for Indonesia from Kolkata on Tuesday night, is in good form. On Saturday he scored twice in a 3-0 rout of his former club Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata Super Division League.
In the ASEAN tournament, 12 teams from South and East Asia are pooled in four groups and the top two from each group will proceed to the quarter-finals.
East Bengal, in Group D along with Thailand's BEC Tero Sasana and Philippines' Negros Occidental FC, will take on BEC in their first match on July 14.
The final is slated to be held on July 26.
Photograph: Ranjan Basu/ Saab Press