Team needs to be supported despite poor outing: Bhutia

Mumbai: Despite India`s dismal performance at the recent AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal when the team failed to defend its title, former football captain Baichung Bhutia feels it is important to back the new-look side.

"I think it is a new team. It`s a young team. We need to give them time and support them. After a lot of senior players left, it is bound to be difficult for them," Bhutia said.

Coach Savio Medeira`s team was knocked out of the tournament following 0-2 defeats against Tajikistan and the Philippines and a 0-4 rout at the hands of North Korea at the Rangsala Dashrath Stadium. It finished last in the group.

The retired footballer visited the first Bhaichung Bhutia Football School (BBFS) in the city, which was recently opened by Dr Pillai Global Academy at Gorai. The school is scouting for partners to open a few more in the city.

"This is our first school in Mumbai. And we plan to open a few more in a couple of months because Mumbai is such a big city. How many, we don`t know, but we are looking at schools and clubs to partner," he said.

Bhutia promised that facilities will be state of the art what the academies of top football clubs like Man United and Arsenal provide.

"I can`t compare myself to Manchester United but what I can say is the training will be as good as Man United and Arsenal. We have coaches from abroad to train our coaches and ensure that we have the best facilities," he said.

The introduction of Premier League Soccer in Bengal will also augur well for the sport, according to Bhutia.

"Football is definitely growing in India now. The more number of organised leagues and tournaments will help the sport," he said. Infrastructure and youth development are some of the issues that needed to be addressed to develop the sport, he added.