New Delhi: India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia described Bob Houghton, who resigned as national coach under controversial circumstances, as the best he has played under but said the AIFF has the right to decide who would be at the helm of affairs or not.
"Bob has achieved so much for Indian football, three international titles and qualification in the Asian Cup after a gap of 27 years. Personally, he is the best coach I had played under. It is very sad he is going and whoever is goingto fill in his shoes it will be very difficult for him," said Bhaichung.
"But it is upto the AIFF to choose a coach. If the AIFF thinks another person can do a better job than Bob it is upto them as national federation," he said.
Houghton on Saturdayt resigned after a negotiation with the AIFF ensured that the charge against him for allegedly racially abusing an Indian referee was dropped but Bhaichung does not see any controversy in the parting of ways of the Englishman with the federation.
"For me there is no controversy. The players had expressed what they wanted to the AIFF president that the charges (against Houghton) were not true. That we did from our side. It is upto the AIFF to decide on it," said Bhaichung who was the regular India captain during Houghton`s tenure of five years since June 2006.
The Sikkimese Sniper felt that Indian football had moved ahead under Houghton with the Indians rubbing shoulders with the best in Asia.
"Asian Cup was the best moment in my career though I played just 15 minutes as I was not 100 per cent fit. We were unlucky to have clubbed with the likes of South Korea and Australia who are the best in Asia and who can compete with the best in the world.
"I think we could have done better in Asian Cup had the two or three key players were not injured. We had a full squad in the Nehru Cup and the AFC Challenge Cup but two-three key players were not 100 per cent fit in the Asian Cup. So you have to see the reality," he said.
Asked if the players would want a high-profile foreign coach as Houghton`s successor, Bhaichung said, "It is not our job to say who would be the next coach. It is the federation`s job to decide whether the new coach would be a foreigner or not. We can`t be involved in that."
National team central defender Gouramangi Singh said that Houghton had played a big role in his career.
"In the past nearly five years we had won three trophies under Bob. He had played a big role in my career," said Gouramangi.
Striker Sunil Chhetri, who was threatened of action by the AIFF for supporting Houghton in the racial abuse case on his tweets, refused to comment.