Houghton positive about Indian football

Houghton says that the next 12 months of his tenure could be the most crucial for Indian football.

updated: June 06, 2007 14:05 IST
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New Delhi:

The club versus country row has dominated football headlines all over the world and it has been no different in India. Eight senior players were called up a week before an Asia Cup Qualifier for a Kolkata League Super tie last year.

But now all that is going to change with the Federation giving into national Coach Bob Houghton's demands to re-work the football calendar around the national team.

"The 165 is not an indication of India's strength. Its an indication of how many points we have got in the last 12 months. They are two different things. If we go on for another 12 months without playing any games we would be 267," said Bob Houghton, Coach, Indian Football Team justifying India's current FIFA ranking of 165.

The Englishman who took over in May last year from Syed Nayeemuddin is yet to register a win in the three matches in charge of the senior team. Lack of football and more so against quality opposition has seen India fall down the rankings and that in turn has seen the image of the game in the country take a beating.

"I guess you are right about there not being too many household names these days in Indian football apart from Baichung Bhutia and he has been an outstanding player. I just hope that will change when the national team improves.

"We need to do something big to get people to notice our players. I hope in the next 12 months we can do that and then maybe qualify for an Asian Cup and maybe even a World Cup which will really help the profile," he said.

While a World Cup maybe a bridge too far for the other man in issue that seems to bother national team coaches from time to time is a proven goal scorer...

Baichung Bhutia has no doubt been the face of Indian football for over a decade but the 30 year old is no more the fox in the box he used to be and finding a replacement is proving to be a tough task.

"Yes is the answer to that. But you can expand to that. We have so few teams in the NFL and three foreign players per team and only eight Indian players in those teams so you haven't got a very big base.

"I watch a lot of NFL games and it is difficult to see a lot of Indian players. Sunil Chetri has done so well to play every game and score those goals. Even in England today there is a problem with the foreign thing. It is a problem for all of us," he added.

It has been 12 months since Bob Houghton took over as the National team Coach, a period that hasn't gone too well for the Englishman and one that saw India fall to its lowest ever World Ranking of 165 in FIFA Rankings.

But as Houghton himself says that the next 12 months of his tenure could be the most crucial for Indian football - one which could decide in which direction the world's most popular sport goes in India.