New Delhi: To compete with the best in the business, Indian football needs a good club structure which it does not have at the moment, feels national team skipper Bhaichung Bhutia.
India, ranked 138th in FIFA rankings and 24th in Asia, have played just one international this year, against Thailand on Saturday, with the return leg scheduled for Wednesday.
"We badly need a good club structure. Clubs should give the national team quality players, that`s how the system works in top footballing nations, but unfortunately, we don`t have a good club structure at the moment," Bhutia said on the sidelines of a promotional event.
Bhutia, who played his 100th international match in the Nehru Cup last year, said, "It is difficult for an Indian footballer to play 100 matches in a career considering the limited number of international games the country plays."
"It`s not too easy considering the fact that we play just two or three matches in 96 or 97 days," Bhutia said.
The India skipper, however, sounded positive when asked about the composition of the current team. "It`s got a great future. Almost all the players who`s played in the last match (against Thailand on Saturday) were young, except Mahesh (Gawli) I think," he said.
"60 to 70 per cent of the players in the team are young, with an average age of 24 or 25, and that`s a good sign," the skipper said.
Lavishing praise on Mohammad Rafi, who made his debut in the Thailand game, Bhutia said, "Rafi has got great potential and has a great future."
Speaking about the progress of the team under national coach Bob Houghton, Bhutia said, "Over the last three years, we have taken slow steps but in the right direction."
"We are not jumping but we are moving towards that place, where the top 10 or 12 teams like Thailand and Syria are there," he said.