Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Indian soccer needs Bob Houghton

While in Malaysia, soccer is surrounded by in-fighting between coaches at junior national level, still on Cloud Nine over a Sea Games gold and going in circles about moving forward to the next level, in India they are facing a problem of being crippled of their hopes of being the next Asian country to move into the big League in international soccer.
The problem India is facing currently is the news of the sudden resignation of English coach Bob Houghton who been their national coach since June 2006.
Houghton who before coming to India had successful stints in China and Uzbekistan, has without doubt elevated India soccer to new heights which has seen them win the Nehru Cup in 2007 and defend it last year, win the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 and qualifying for next year's Asian Cup for the first time in 24 years.
All Indian Football Federation (AIFF), president, Praful Patel, is now making all efforts to have Houghton retract his resignation and continue his good work with Indian soccer.
The 62-year-old coach who is currently in Cape Town, had sent his resignation in the wake of news that AIFF secretary general Alberto Colaco in his recent visit to Malaysia had met a soccer agent to look out for a replacement.
Houghton then had asked for a contract extension and hike in salary from his current contract.
Indian team captain, Baichung Bhutia, who was  on trials with Kuala Lumpur and later played in the Malaysian League for a short spell for Perak, had come out strongly on behalf of his team, with their support for Houghton.

Totally a different scenario from Malaysian soccer where players would go on Facebook and talk about the ills of their team, rather than take positive measures to improve Malaysian soccer.
The NDTV and Times of India report here gives a clear picture of the "Bob Houghton" saga and how AIFF are trying their level best to resolve the issue.
Maybe, Malaysia may want to zero in on Houghton, if he really decides to end his contract with India.
However, whether the FA of Malaysia have the means to hire a high-profile coach like Houghton and whether they can handle what he wants to put in place, will be a question mark.
After all, even India could not cope with his demands to bring Indian soccer to the next level.
Even the likes of Trevor Hartley, Dr Josef Venglos, Claude Le Roy, Allan Harris to name a few all had problems working with Malaysian soccer.
With no disrespect to current and local coach K. Rajagopal, who has done a good job so far, but I wonder if he will be given the free reign and the support to take Malaysian soccer to the next level.
Nothing will be sweeter for Malaysian soccer to reach great heights with a local coach, but the FA of Malaysia need to come out with new ideas to develop the national team with the support of the State FAs. 
Some are already talking about the World Cup when we have not qualified for the Asian Cup. That is Malaysian soccer!

Bobby Houghton
Personal information
Full name Robert Douglas Houghton
Date of birth 13 October 1947 (1947-10-13) (age 62)
Place of birth    England
Club information
Current club India (manager)
Senior career
Years Club
Brighton & Hove Albion
Hastings United
Maidstone United

Teams managed
Hastings United
Maidstone United
Malmö FF
Ethnikos Piraeus
Bristol City
Toronto Blizzard
Örgryte IS
Malmö FF
FC Zürich
Colorado Rapids

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