Indian football is not moving forward, says Houghton

June 18th, 2009 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) Get (Jose) Mourinho or (Guus) Hiddink as coach, India will still be 147th in the world rankings so long as it doesn’t have top class infratstructure to take the game to international levels, feels chief football coach Bob Houghton.
After four years as chief coach, Houghton is not satisfied with two international titles and guiding India to the 2011 Asian Cup after 24 years because the game has not progressed at the pace he would have wanted it to.

The Englishman, a former Fulham mid-fielder, said if India wants to qualify for the World Cup, players should “forget about playing in stupid competitions like the Santosh Trophy, Durand cup and the IFA Shield.”

“You either play in these tournaments or think of playing in the World Cup. Professionals playing in Santosh Trophy against a bunch of amateurs at the end of the season doesn’t make any sense. Do you believe, Steven Gerrard will play for Lancashire in some hotchpotch trophy at the end of the season?” Houghton asked.

He also took a swipe at the I-League clubs, saying that not a single team qualifies to be called a professional club in the stricter sense.

“Some teams don’t have doctors, physio, assistant coaches, goalkeeping coaches and training grounds. Last season I also saw a coach taking over in the middle of the season, whose only experience was with kids. I have also seen club officials sitting in the grand stand and instructing the coach on substitution,” he said.

Houghton said that even after a history of more than 100 years in football, there is no proper infrastructure for the sport in the country.

“Even after 100 years, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal don’t have a training ground. There is not a single proper training ground in the country. You can bring in Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink but you will still remain 147th in the FIFA rankings if you don’t have the infrastructure,” he said.

Houghton also blamed the government for not showing enough interest in developing the sport.

“Couple of months back, I heard a comment from the sports minister that the national team can even lose to an Australian school team. But I wan’t to ask him why can’t he prepare the facilities for us? We have zero facilities here. There is just one proper football stadium in the country (Ambedkar Stadium). We need more purpose-built football stadiums,” he said.

Houghton felt despite all that problems it was the honesty of the national team players that forced him to stay back till the 2011 Asian cup.

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