New Delhi:Syria coach Fajer Ebrahim on Thursday refused to write off defending champions India from the Nehru Cup international football tournament here though the hosts lost to Lebanon in their opening match.
Ebrahim, who was also coach of the Syrian side which lost to India in the last edition's final in August 2007, said Bob Houghton's boys would pick up the steam as the tournament progresses.
"From what I saw in the match against Lebanon they (the Indians) were a bit lacking in activeness I feel so. But it is too early to pass judgment. They started slowly in 2007 also, I remembered that. So they will pick up steam," said Ebrahim after his side blanked Kyrgyzstan 2-0 at the Ambedkar Stadium here today.
"I think we were also slow in the our first match today (against Kyrgyzstan) and we will also pick up," he added. The grass on the Ambedkar pitch was cut a bit after India coach complained yesterday and the Syrian coach said the grass should be cut further.
"It (the grass) should be cut further and that will be better. Otherwise, the ground was all right," he said. "The same stadium, the same people," he joked.
Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan coach Ormombi Kov Anarbik said his players would not be under pressure against India in their second round-robin match on Saturday.
"India are a good side. They play fast game from what I saw in the match against Lebanon. But we have nothing to lose and we will play our normal game," he said.
Asked about today's match, he said it was a tough game but Ablamikov Roman's red card in the 67th minute put paid to their hopes of finding an equaliser.
"It was a tough match but the red card gave us very little chance to equalise," he said.
Anarbik would not, however, contest Indian referee Pratap Singh's red card decision, saying, "As far I am concerned it was not a red card, but I am not complaining. The referee was nearer to the players and he was in a better position to take a decision."