Houghton feels need for power
New Indian soccer coach has stated the need for strong players to extract the game from its lull, says Varun Gupta.india Updated: Jul 15, 2006 01:21 IST
New Indian football coach Bob Houghton has identified the need for taller, dexterous and strong players to extract the game from the morass it has been wallowing in.
Appearing with AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi for his first official press conference on Friday, Houghton indicated that he has ideas on how to silence wails of derision that have pursued Indian football for long.
Feet planted on terra firma, Houghton is aware of the enormity of the task that lies before him and accentuated on the virtues of patience for the game to snap out of its current torpor.
"It is imperative that we find taller, bigger and more robust players so that we can maximise the results from the set pieces, whose capitalisation is intrinsic to success," Houghton said.
"In the World Cup, most of the goals came from set-pieces and it became clear that more possession and a victory are not co-related. What Germany 2006 did show was that if a team can get bigger players in the opposition penalty area, they can make a difference," he added.
Houghton, however, was quick to dismiss the notion that height is the only priority for him and said that there is no substitute for technically skillful, quick and intelligent players.
The S Venkatesh-led Indian team's first assignment under Houghton will be the four-nation tourney in Vancouver from July 19, which also involves Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Cardiff City FC and the Chinese under-20 team.
For Houghton, though, the trip's importance goes far beyond results as there he'll have a rendezvous with former Newcastle United player Michael Chopra — who will turn out for Cardiff City - and will try to persuade him to represent India in future. Dasmunsi has given his green signal for the move.
"I've also identified around five players in Holland too who can be convinced to play for India owing to their Indian roots. Prince Rajkumar is one such player. He represented Holland under-20 and has scored more than 100 goals for his club and is only 21 years old," he said.
An audience with the erudite Houghton was refreshing as not only did he preserve a bit of mystery about himself, but there were no vague assurances of world being at India's feet shortly.
The coach does seem to have a strategy in place to resuscitate Indian football and is willing to cull every scrap of information he could for the cause.
Captain Venkatesh conceded, "Let alone knowing our names, he can do our whole SWOT analysis, which is amazing. We hardly know anything about him and he knows so much!"
Houghton admitted that after getting scuppered by Yemen and Japan, Indian players could be feeling low but "after winning a few games" the team will be in fine fettle.
While admitting that lack of strength is India's bane, Houghton also said that it is of massive importance that clubs and he work in consonance as "players are with clubs for nine months a year and the development work must continue and not stop".
Houghton also said it was important that Baichung Bhutia reconsidered his decision to retire from international football — Dasmunsi will be speaking to Bhutia on Saturday on the matter — and said that India need to play against slightly better teams so that "we can get a few wins under our belt and build confidence".
It seemed that Houghton had a meticulous plan up his sleeve but as his predecessors found out, implementation of plans is the real challenge. However, if he can show half as much zeal as he did while delivering these words, Indian football can dare to dream.