Doha: India will remain a football laggard until the "zero infrastructure" problem is addressed by the authorities, according to National coach Bob Houghton, who feels the country's participation in Asian Cup after 27 years will help to change things.
Houghton lamented that things proceed in the country at a slow pace and there was no result of economic growth in football infrastructure.
"You are talking about a country that has zero football infrastructure. We have, I think, one stadium in the whole of the country that meets the criteria to host a World Cup qualifier and that's in Chennai, where there is no football and it's an athletics stadium," Houghton said.
"We have no training facilities and I mean that which is why when we get the national team together we have to go outside the country to find somewhere to train. If you have no infrastructure then it's almost impossible to organise a league because there are no grounds to play the matches.”
"Our matches kick off at 3 o' clock in the afternoon and are played on surfaces that no self-respecting top player would play on and in 35 degrees of heat at least. Therefore, the games are very slow and maybe players run three or four kms compared with the 10 or 11 you've got to do when you come to Asian Cup," Houghton told the official AFC website.
"The AFC President came to India three years ago and said India is 100 years behind and then he came last year and said nothing has changed. I don't know how long or how many times people have got to say that to get the authorities to come to grips with it but it's not being done," he said.
The Englishman who took charge in mid 2006, however, is confident that football landscape in India is set to change after the Asian Cup participation, the first time after 1984.
"I think there is a determination now in the country, from the AFC, from FIFA that Indian football needs to move on. I don't think people will throw their hands in the air and give up. I think people will do the opposite and people will sit down and focus on what is fundamentally wrong with the game in India and how do we change it.”
"I genuinely believe that being in the Asian Cup will move everything on," he said.
First Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 15:58