New Delhi: Sparse international exposure notwithstanding, the Indian football team has improved in the past three years and has become more confident of taking on strong opponents, coach Bob Houghton said.
Addressing a press conference a day before his side`s Nehru Cup opener against Lebanon, Houghton credited the improvement to the few foreign training trips the team got in the last three years.
"We were not winning international tournaments before the 2007 Nehru Cup. I think a lot has changed in the fortunes of the Indian team in the last three years. We have become more confident now to take on stronger opponents," Houghton said.
"In the last three years we got opportunities to train outside the country and I think that has given us the good results and the confidence," he added.
The 61-year-old Englishman said it was not easy and took some time to put together a set of players to work with.
"When I took over (in June 2006) I had to find out the players with whom I had to work. India lost 0-3 to Yemen immediately before I took over and a lot of players had to be changed," he said.
"But after that, I came across players like NP Pradeep, Climax Lawrence, Sunil Chhetri. Then, Bhaichung Bhutia came out of retirement and I got the group of players to work with," he added.