Bob Houghton bids adieu. So what?


Bob Houghton, who has coached the Indian national football team for almost 5 years after taking over the reigns from not-so-popular coach Syed Nayeemuddin in the summer of 2006, has said good-bye to the team. He submitted his resignation to the AIFF and the deal was over or, shoud I say, the deal was struck.

Let me tell you how the drama unfolded. It was about 5 months back when Indian referee Dinesh Nair levelled charges of racism against the coach after the international friendly against Yemen. He claimed Bob had called him ‘Indian b*****d’ while he was officiating the match. The case was registered with AIFF but they sat on it. Reason being the need for continuing with Bob till the Asian Cup as AIFF could not afford a change at the final moment.


We played Asian Cup and performed, well, not as bad as we feared but bad enough. Bob continued with his series of AIFF bashing in there too citing infrastructural problem as the main cause behind the laggard performance. Cracks widened between AIFF and Bob. Now was the time for AIFF to play the racism card and investigation was initiated against him. If AIFF had asked Bob to leave, they would have had to pay huge monetary compensation to him. So, they put forth a condition- resign and we drop the charges. Bob resigned.

It was time for India to look for new coach and get rid of Houghton. We were not moving up even a bit under him which also reflected in the FIFA rankings where we kept to-ing and fro-ing from 160s to 140s for 5 years which I believe is a long time to bring about mammoth changes. He blamed on infrastructural problems everytime we did badly. Agreed we have fewer grounds, little media attention, lesser interest showered but I am sure it’s better than that of  Togo, Trinidad & Tobaggo and Senegal. I mean Togo was duped when some random team played an International friendly against Bahrain instead of them. Its that bad there! They do not get to hold camps in Saudi Arabia and Portugal. AIFF spent a lot of money to make for infrastructural woes which cannot be improved over few months. But where is the result? Winning against 4th division Portuguese team, thats what you are gonna show us? Eyewash.Bob did not bring major new faces in the team and kept playing the old horses who on their spirited day can at best defeat Syria 1-0 and win Nehru Cup. Now don’t tell me we do not have young talents in the vast country!


I respect Bob for what he has done to the Indian football. He has been brave to point out unprofessionalism of AIFF and postive about our prospects. He has forced AIFF to treat footballers with respect and take care of their comfort. We have moved ahead in this direction and hopefully AIFF’s attitude has changed. But Bob could only take us this far. We have to find a new sailor for the dwindling ship. We need someone who would have eyes for new talent and would bring about revolutionary changes to make us fans realise our fanciest dream of seeing us in the FIFA World Cup.


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