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India without two key players for tonight's clash with Australia

The absence of two key players will make India's task of trying to beat Australia in their opening Asian Cup match tonight even harder.

The 142nd-ranked Indians meet the 26th-ranked Socceroos in Doha for Group C's first match of the 2011 tournament but will be without captain Bhaichung Bhutia and forward Sushil Singh.

Bhutia is out with a calf injury and will be a massive loss for Bob Houghton's team according to star striker Sunil Chettri.

"The whole team is missing him (Bhutia), he's the most important player we have. It's not just on the field, it's the in dressing room with the boys," Chettri said.

"He knows how to motivate us and for the last six or seven years we have seen him as the leader and everything comes through him, on the field at least and it's difficult when he's not there but that's the way it is."

And Chettri added that the prospect of taking on Australia, along with South Korea and Bahrain, was one that the Indian team was looking forward to.

"I think four or five months ago when we learned we were playing Australia in the first match we did think these kinds of things, there's going to be Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer and all this kind of thing. To be honest we did get intimidated," he added.

"But in the last month or so, whenever we talk about the players we think about ourselves. This is only about us so as far as the players are concerned, we know what we can achieve and we know exactly where we stand.

"We are playing against two of the best World Cup teams and one who almost qualified so it's a chance to see where we are at and we're looking forward to it."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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