Do we need foreign coaches in Indian football?

April 8th, 2009 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) From Ciric Milovan to Bob Houghton and Karim Bencherifa, foreign coaches have added a global touch to Indian football. But the nation’s football community stands divided on the effectiveness of foreign coaches.
East Bengal coach Subhash Bhowmick feels that foreign coaches have only tasted limited success in India and their contribution is not significant.

At a debate on ‘Indian football and foreign coaches’ here Tuesday, Bhowmick said that national coach Houghton, who is into his third year with the national team, has hardly tasted success outside India.

“Where is his success outside India? It is good that we won the Nehru Cup and the AFC Challenge Cup at home. But what happened in the SAFF Cup? In SAFF, we were given a tough time by smaller teams like Bhutan and Maldives,” said Bhowmick, who guided East Bengal to two national league titles and the ASEAN Cup win.

“For a national coach it is very important to realise the passion, pride and culture. But for a foreigner it takes some time to realise all these points and by the time he gets to know time runs out.”

Bhowmick claimed the facilities that are being offered to Houghton were never given to any Indian coach.

He went on to add that the success of Indian coaches like Dempo’s Armando Colaco, who guided the club to the semi-finals of the AFC Cup, can hardly be matched by any foreign coach associated with any Indian club.

“Indian coaches have been equally successful. I have two national league titles and one international title. Armando has three national league titles and also made Dempo the first Indian team to reach the AFC Cup semis. Do you see any foreign coach in club football matching these credentials,” he said.

But former India international Prasanto Banerjee, who spoke in support of foreign coaches in the debate, said that success of foreign coaches have created a sense of insecurity among Indians.

“Foreign coaches have also given us result. Be it Milovan, Houghton or Bencharifa. If they are doing something good so what’s the harm in learning from them. If Guus Hiddink comes to India, I will obviously try to learn something from him,” said Banerjee, who holds an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) A licence (coaching).

Banerjee said that Indian coaches are poor at basics and only few pass in AFC’s coaching exam.

“India coaches lack basic sense of programming. They can’t make a proper schedule for competition and training while foreign coaches are very systematic. We should try to learn from them and there is no end to it,” he said.

Taking a swipe at critics of foreign coaches, Banerjee said: “There is no harm in recruiting foreign players but a fuss is created when it comes to appointing foreign coaches.”

Banerjee praised Houghton for helping India qualify for the Asian Cup after 24 years and that all help should be extended to him for the tournament in Doha in 2011.

“Houghton has set a target for the Asia Cup. So what is the harm in that?” asked Banerjee.

Former India coach Syed Nayeemuddin has also been very vocal about the facilities given to Houghton that he was denied.

“It is a pity that in this country we don’t respect our own coaches,” Nayeemuddin had said. “I wanted foreign exposure for the team but was ignored by the federation. But now this coach takes the Indian team on exposure trips before tournaments,” said Nayeemuddin, who was replaced by Houghton.

JCT’s Sukhwinder Singh supported Nayeemuddun’s views but said that if a foreign coach is giving us result “we should give him all support.”

“Indian coaches have had their share of success with both the national and club teams. Before the AFC Challenge Cup success, myself and Houghton were tied with our winning percentage. Only the great Rahim saab was ahead of us. But if foreign coaches are giving us results we should help them.”

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