Indian football coach wants more international matches for India

Updated: Sep 14, 2010, 18:40 PM IST

New Delhi: Indian football chief coach Bob Houghton on Tuesday said as a part of preparation for the 2011 Asian Cup, his initial idea was to play 10 international games a month from September onwards.

The national team has played just two international matches -- against Thailand -- since their triumphant Nehru Cup campaign in August last year, and it did not go down well with the Englishman.

“That was just my idea,” Houghton said before adding, “I played 44 internationals in two years in China.”

“We have got just two games in September which is a massive disappointment,” said Houghton, who has always focused on India’s need to play as many international games as possible to move up in FIFA rankings.

“But it’s also difficult to get international teams to play India at this time of the season. The only reason we got two games in October was because they were FIFA dates,” he added.

India were scheduled to play Gambia on September 19, four days after their match against Namibia, but that had been called off due to venue problems.

But Houghton, who was never in favour of playing African teams ahead of the inter-continental tournament in Doha, today expressed disappointment over the cancellation of their friendly against Gambia.

“I’m extremely disappointment with the cancellation of the Gambia match,” he said.

The national coach also felt it is time I-League clubs started professionalising their set-up.

“The AIFF has a development plan but all 14 clubs need to follow that plan. The AFC (Asian Football Federation) is also very serious about it,” Houghton said.

AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam yesterday rued Indian football’s slow progress, saying the country had not realized its vast potential.

“In football, all the stakeholders need to perform. I think the main barrier preventing football development in India is the lack of infrastructure,” Hammam had said after a meeting with All India Football Federation (AIFF) officials.