Any football venue in the world is better than India: Houghton

Last Updated: Sep 06, 2010, 21:54 PM IST

New Delhi: Slamming the training facilities and the infrastructure in India, national football coach Bob Houghton on Monday said any stadium in the world is far better than the ones in the country.

Houghton said poor facilities in the India is precisely the reason why they always look for overseas trips for training of the national team.

Houghton and his wards have just returned from Thailand, following a two-month long tour of Portugal, where they played friendlies against lower division clubs as a part of preparation for the 2011 Asian Cup.

The coach, impressed with Bangkok’s Yamaha Stadium, which hosted India’s friendly against Thailand on Saturday, felt that Indian stadiums are no match for international venues.

“The (Bangkok) stadium is much better (than India’s), any football stadium is better than here,” Houghton said.

“In terms of facilities, we wouldn’t have gone to Portugal if we had good training facilities in India,” Houghton, who will be taking his wards to Dubai in November on another exposure trip, said.

Reacting to Thailand coach Bryan Robson’s comments that Indians must work hard on their fitness if they want to make it big in international football, Houghton said that playing a match in a different time zone after the “long tour of Portugal” took a toll on his players”.

“From Lisbon to Bangkok, the time difference is six hours. The boys were struggling in the first 20 minutes.”

The coach, however, is impressed with the performance of the team.

“Anthony Pereira (Sunil) Chhetri, the two centre backs (Mahesh Gawli and Gourmangi Singh and goalkeeper Subrata Paul had a good game,” Houghton said.

Thailand have improved a lot ever since Robson, the former Manchester United and England legend, took over as national team coach.

“They are good from corners and at crosses,” Houghton said.

Asked about the composition for Wednesday’s game, Houghton said he won’t make major changes, but injury is a cause for concern.

Abhishek Yadav, Syed Rahim Nabi, Renedy Singh and Samir Naik are in the injured list while Bhaichung Bhutia has been suffering from Thyroid related problems for a while now.

After Wednesday’s match against Thailand, India will play Namibia on September 15, followed by a match against Gambia on September 19 at the Ambedkar Stadium here.

They will then head to Pune to play against Yemen and Vietnam.

Houghton, who was against the idea of playing African teams, said, “It’s easier to quantify our performance if we play teams like Vietnam and Yemen, but against Namibia or Gambia, we wouldn’t know.

Before going for the two-month training tour of Portugal, Houghton had said that a few players out of 30 in the national camp could make it to the squad for Asian Games in November. But today, Houghton said he will not release any player.

“I will not release any player for Asian Games. My priorities are Asian Cup and not Asian Games,” said Houghton.

PTI