The executive committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), on Friday, authorised president Praful Patel to decide on national coach Bob Houghton’s future after the Asian Cup in January 2011.
Till then, as Patel and the AIFF have insisted so far, the Englishman continues to be in charge. The AIFF president even termed the report of Houghton’s resignation as a “baseless rumour.”
“I had spoken to Bob a few days ago. He has certain issues that have been communicated by his agent,” said Patel, at the media conference, which followed the meeting. “Those issues don’t indicate that Bob wanted to quit. This episode and the uncertainty surrounding it will be put to rest,” Patel said.
Refusing to divulge details of Houghton’s contract, the AIFF chief said “he continues to be the coach of the Indian national squad until January 2011.” An AIFF official, who didn’t want to be named as he isn’t authorised to speak to the media, said it is likely that Houghton will stay beyond the Asian Cup finals and till 2013.
For Asian Cup preparations, all 30 national probables chosen will get an AIFF contract (on a pro-rata basis) for eight months (June 2010-January 2011), with a hike of 15 per cent.
Patel also allayed fears of preparations for the finals not being on course. “The team will go on an extensive training-coaching programme and play friendlies from September as planned earlier.” AIFF general secretary Alberto Colaco said the first two matches would be against Thailand, away on September 4 and at home on September 8.
Patel again said a decision on the composition of the fourth I League will be taken in consultation with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The deadline for following AFC guidelines, Colaco said, is December 31 and will be applicable from I-League 5.
“We will try to ensure the league next season is stronger and more competitive,” Patel said. He also said an U-19 national team will play in the next I-League, set to begin in September.
“The U-19 players will be on paid contracts with the AIFF and our main target is the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. There will be an international coach for the squad and we are shortlisting names,” he said. The team will be based in New Delhi.
It is possible that in I League 4 the 3+1 foreigners’ rule (including one Asian) will continue. Colaco said the decision will be announced on Saturday.