By Jagannath Chatterjee
New Delhi: Everyone has had an opinion on the next person who should take over as the head coach of the Indian football team. While some have spoken about the need to have foreign coaches, others have questioned the need to look at other countries when there are enough experienced people in India.
Speaking to IANS, former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia has put all debates to rest and said that the profile of the coach is what matters and not the nationality.
“It depends on the kind of profile the person has. Indian or foreigner isn’t the question here. It is about the kind of work he has done,” he explained.
The first global face of Indian football said that for him to debate the standard of Indian and foreign coaches is very difficult and the decision should have nothing to do with the origin of the coach.
“It is very difficult to say whether I prefer a foreigner or I prefer an Indian. The decision needs to be taken keeping only the experience and the caliber of the person and nothing else,” he added.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to participate in the upcoming edition of the King’s Cup in Thailand after four decades – India last participated in the tournament in 1977 – and a call on the next India coach is now a matter of priority.
AIFF has already expressed its inability to hire a high-profile coach owing to the financial constraints that comes with it and now, with Bhaichung focusing on the profile of the next coach, it will be interesting to see if the AIFF pays heed to one of the best footballers to have played the game for India.
In the past it has been observed that whenever a coach is given a longer stint, results have been achieved.
Bob Houghton, one of the most successful foreign coaches, worked with the Indian team from 2006 till 2011. Stephen Constantine was the head coach from 2015 till 2019. If the national team achieved its best ranking (FIFA Ranking 94) in 1996 under the Uzbek coach Rustam Akramov, the lowest ranking of 173 was also achieved in 2015 when Win Koevermans was in charge of the Indian team.
So, what matters is not the nationality, but the profile as well as the tenure given to him to adapt to Indian players and understand their needs and requirements. With the success that the team attained in the Asian Cup, it will be crucial that Indian football doesn’t take any step backward from here.
(Jagannath Chatterjee can be contacted at [email protected])