new Delhi: Indian national team coach Bob Houghton spoke his heart out when he addressed the media and his frustrations were aimed at those in charge of the game in the country.
The Englishman felt that the lack of vision amongst those running the show in the country has been a problem to contend with.
"After three years of being here, I don't think the game has moved forward very quickly. We don't see the whole picture, not just the AIFF (All India Football Federation) but the general footballing body, about the standard we need to achieve," said Houghton.
Indian football has a rich history having won the Asian Games and putting on a good show in the Olympics as well. Over the years, India has slumped in the FIFA rankings and that hasn’t helped the game in the country one bit. Houghton believes that India must do away with "nonsensical" tournaments and have a more professional approach.
"Professionals playing Santosh Trophy against a bunch of amateurs at the end of the season don’t make any sense. Do you believe Steven Gerrard will play for some hotchpotch trophy at the end of the season?
"If you are playing these tournaments then do not ask why the National team does not qualify for major tournaments and why we are 147 in the world," added Houghton.
Earlier this year, Sports Minister MS Gill had criticised the Indian national team stating that an Australian school team could beat the current set of players.
"I remember the Sports Minister saying this Indian team would lose even to an Australian school team. I don’t know what prompted him to say that but I feel, instead of being cynical he should have asked himself why the facilities aren’t there."
Indian team is set to travel to Dubai for a training camp and thereby, shall play a few friendlies at Camp Nou. The former Fulham midfielder believes that the lack of proper infrastructure is the primary motive behind him taking his boys abroad for training.
"Every evening, groups of youngsters would invade the pitch for cricket practice. Some would even indulge in javelin throw. Have you ever heard of any international team training in the said circumstances anywhere in the world?"
"After 100 years of football we are 147 in the world. You can sack the coach and bring another one, but you will still be 147. There is a need to change people’s perception about the big picture," said the 61 year old.
The former China coach stated that several I-League clubs refused to meet the standards set by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
"We also need to look at the quality of the I-League. I don’t think any of the I-League clubs follow the criteria needed for a professional league. Most teams don’t have doctors, trainers, assistant coaches, physios, goalkeeping coaches and, most importantly, a training ground."
For Houghton, the only positive which keeps him motivated to continue his journey with Indian national team is the success and enthusiasm shown by the boys. But is there any hope for Indian football football at the end of the day in the current scenario?
"You can remove the coach and you can bring Guus Hiddink or Jose Mourinho tomorrow and you will still be (ranked) 140," said a miffed Houghton.
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