India beat Afghans 1-0 as AFC begins

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Coach Bob Houghton defends India's patchy show saying Afghanistan are much stronger than their FIFA ranking of 181 suggests.

Updated: August 02, 2008 10:59 IST
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India coach Bob Houghton sought to defend his team's patchy performance against Afghanistan, saying the 1-0 win was a fair result against an under-rated team in their first match of the AFC Challenge Cup here on Wednesday.

Climax Lawrence saved the day for India scoring in the injury time (92nd minute) of the match but the home team largely failed to live up to high expectations preceding the tournament.

The resistance from their opponents, the lowest ranked side in the tournament at 181st in latest FIFA charts, left the Indians red-faced but Houghton would have none of it.

"I don't think that FIFA rankings reflect the strength of the Afghan team. They are a much better team than the rankings indicate, so it is no shame that we won by 1-0 margin," he said at the post-match press conference.

Houghton refused to say that India's next rivals defending champions Tajikistan and Turkmenistan could be tougher opponents than the Afghans.

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