Forget golden era, time to catch up with world: Dasmunshi

Basking in the past glory just won't help and it's time to catch up with the world, says AIFF Preseident Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi.

updated: September 06, 2008 08:49 IST
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Indian soccer had a golden era but basking in that past glory just would not help and it's time to catch up with the world, said All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi.

In the 1950s and 60s, India was a force to reckon with in the world of football. They were invited to play in 1950 World Cup, finished fourth in 1956 Melbourne Olympics besides winning gold in 1951 New Delhi Asian Games and 1962 Jakarta Asian Games.

Dasmunshi said since then, lot has changed in terms of rules, fitness of players and professionalism, which were not evident four decades ago.

"We cannot bask in past glories. The golden era is over and lots of changes have taken place in the world of football. We have to catch up now," Dasmunshi said while addressing the media at the launch of Haryana State League here today.

"Football was played for 70 minute then and now we have to play 90 gruelling minutes and 120 minutes sometimes. The players will have to be super-fit now.

"Professionalism is the norm everywhere in the world. We have not been able to compete with professionalism in Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia and others. So we have to work harder in professionalising football," he added.

The AIFF President also revealed that from next season's I-League (2009-10), the number of foreigners in each club would be reduced. Currently, each team can register three foreign players and include three in their squad in a match.

National coach Bob Houghton and clubs like Dempo have been arguing to reduce the number of foreign players to nurture local talents.

"We will take a decision by the end of this year to reduce the number of foreigners in I-League teams. This will start from next I-League. Coach Houghton is also in favour of it," he said.

Dasmunshi asked the corporate sector to invest in football and help the AIFF in its project to prepare for the 2011 Asian Cup.

"After coach Houghton comes back from vacation, we will thrash out a blueprint of how to go about the Asian Cup. We will need at least Rs 2.5 crore per year for the preparation, the bottom-line is we have to do well in Asian Cup," he said.

"I request the corporate sector to invest in football. You will have also the business mileage, as football is the top sport in the world. None can surpass marketing value of the World Cup, or Euro or Asian Cup. Please don't run away, be patient," he appealed the private sector.

He said India would have to build three national sides if it was to do well at the international stage.

"We need to have three national sides to compete at the top level. There would be injuries to the first team and the replacements will come form the other teams," he said.

The AIFF chief pinned high hopes on the under-16 squad which will take part in the AFC Asian Championship in Uzbekistan next month, with the top four teams there booking a berth in the under-16 World Cup.

"U-16 team did very well in the qualifiers and if they reach the semifinals of the AFC Championship in Uzbekistan India will play in the U-16 World Cup. They had toured the United States and will leave for Manchester today for training. I have high hopes on them," he said.

Dasmunshi said by next month all the hurdles for the start of construction of two football academies -- one at Goa and another at Gurgaon -- will be cleared.

"By the end of next month, the land allotment wrangle for a football academy in Goa will be cleared and handed over to the stakeholders," he said.

HFA President Deepinder Singh Hooda informed that the Haryana government has earmarked 30 acres of land in Bhondsi village in Gurgaon for the construction of an academy to be named Rajiv Gandhi Football Academy.

"The state government has earmarked 30 acres of land for the academy at Bhondsi and the all the necessary process for handing over the land for starting construction will be over by next month," he said.