India must play top teams in friendly match: Chunni Goswami

Saddened by the dismal state of affairs in Indian football, former India skipper Chunni Goswami said the blame lies with the system and lack of professionalism in the sport.

Updated: Apr 13, 2011, 22:42 PM IST

New Delhi: Saddened by the dismal state of
affairs in Indian football, former India skipper Chunni
Goswami said the blame lies with the system and lack of
professionalism in the sport.

Blaming both All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) and
national coach Bob Houghton for the current condition of the
game in India, Goswami said while the Englishman is reluctant
to explore new options, the federation is simply indifferent.

"The national coach must look for the good footballers in
the country. You have to go to different states and look for
the talented players. Moreover, there should also be macro
level monitoring from the AIFF," said Goswami on the sidelines
of a function, organised to felicitate the members of the
Indian football team of 1960 Rome Olympics, of which he also
was a part.

Goswami, who captained India to the Asian Games Gold
Medal in 1962, said India have to play against the top teams
in the world in order to improve.

"Does the national team ever play teams like Japan,
Korea, etc in the friendly matches? India always play the
fourth division teams like Portugal in sea beaches, which
obviously does not instill confidence in them. Our players
have to play against the first division footballers if they
want to do well," said the 73-year-old.

"When the whole world practices in the friendly games
with the biggest teams in the world to find where they stand.
We play matches with lower ranked teams," he added.

Accusing Houghton for not developing the junior players,
the former footballing great who has played for India in 50
international matches including in Olympics, Asian Games, Asia
Cup and Merdeka Cup, said the bench-strength is completely
missing in Indian football.

"Houghton goes for the tried and tested players and does
not want to try out the juniors. So, at times when the key
players are injured there are not even suitable replacements.
This in itself is a defeat for him," said the Padamshri

Asked about the allegations of racial abuse on Houghton,
the ex-skipper said AIFF is to be blamed for it.

"Where is the monitoring? Who is checking him? You have
given the football team to him and he will do whatever he
likes to."

Houghton allegedly made racial remarks against referee
Dinesh Nair during India`s friendly against Yemen in Pune in
October last year and `derogatory` comments against Indian

Goswami, however, insisted that the coach must not be
changed and allowed to continue but said that AIFF needs to be
more active.

"No matter whichever coach you bring in, the AIFF will
need to monitor him. Bring him into the consultation rooms,"
said Goswami, who made his international debut for India in
1956 during the team`s 1-0 victory over the Chinese Olympic

He also insisted that proper structure and transparency
was the only way forward for Indian football.

"You have to make three tires -- under-19, under-23 and
under-26 and there should be transparency. If one man goes, he
must know who is his replacement. In every field it function
like this. If one goes, another is there to take his/her
position," said Goswami.

Another former India captain P K Banerjee also agreed
with his former teammate and said that the system is
completely faulty and there is an urgent need to address it.

"During the developing years of a player, he should be
given proper nourishment, which is the basic thing but is
missing these days," said Banerjee.

Comparing the present time with that of the golden era of
Indian football -- the 1950s and 60s, Banerjee, who was named
Indian Footballer of the 20th Century by FIFA, said current
bunch is not versatile.

"We lack versatile players. You need to have players in
football who can change the game. But none of our players are
like that.

"We were mentally, physically and spiritually fit and
were always ready. In fact, if you look at our team we were
all tall -- no one was below 5 feet 8 inches -- and also had
good physic, which are the basic criteria for being a
footballer. But to talk the least, the current players are not
even tall to match the international standard footballers," he

The 74-year-old veteran, who represented India for 13
years and was one of the top scorers in Asia at that time,
said he felt sad that Indian football`s downfall over a period
of time now has also resulted in players lacking in

"We were very confident and professional players. But
these days, the players totally lack confidence," concluded
the only footballer from Asia who has been awarded the FAIR
PLAY Award.