Even Alex Ferguson can't help India qualify for World Cup: Baichung Bhutia

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 21, 2013 16:24 hrs

Former Indian football captain Baichung Bhutia today said that even renowned coach Alex Ferguson would not be able to take India into World Cup without proper infrastructure and involvement of committed people in the running of the game in the country.

"We need right people, right infrastructure, right motivation and willingness to take the game forward. They (people involved in betterment of football in India) should not be there just to take positions," Bhutia said.

"Tomorrow (even if) you bring Alex Ferguson to India he is not going to take us to World Cup. But what Fergusons can do is to train 20 to 25 guys who will get the benefit and later these players will impart their ideas to other players," he said.

Asked whether football fans could see India qualifying World Cup in their life time, he said, "It is possible. When North Korea has done it, I think India can do it too. But people involved in the game like players coaches and district to state associations should really be quality people dedicated to the sport. We need infrastructure and exposure."

Bhutia was here along with Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to associate with NGO 'Hip Hip Hurray' to promote a sports-based curriculum to engage children and youth in Jharkhand. He cited the example how Dhoni loves football from his heart.

"Good thing is that Dhoni enjoys and loves sports and football. It is not only (a kind of) show-off thing. It comes from his heart. It's nice that players like Dhoni are engaged in promoting football," Bhutia said.

Stating that football has been going through a phase where a lot of things have to be done in the country, Bhutia said people involved in the game should show their commitment to work for its development.

"I am not only saying about football federation but also states and district associations should also get totally involved if they really want to do something better for the game," Bhutia said.

Asked whether the associations should be manned by professional footballers, Bhutia said there should be a mixture of professional footballers and others in the administration.

"Like the technical side of the game should be looked after by footballers and other things by administrators, who are aware of the game," he said.

Pointing out how I-league was struggling to draw spectators and sponsors, the former poster boy of Indian football said some clubs were still not having sponsors.

"I-league started well, but now is struggling in terms of crowd turn out and lacks sponsorship, and is in a difficult situation. Even clubs are without sponsors. United Sikkim is one of them struggling for sponsors. Something has to be done," he said.

Bhutia, however, did not agree with the view that cricket has been responsible for football's lack of sponsorship.

"Football itself has to do a lot of things. A lot of planning has to be done. Soccer has to come up with results."

Supporting recruitment of foreign coaches for Indian football team, he said though coaches from abroad help in imparting skills they should be provided with quality players if India wanted to excel in the international circuit.

"Coming from a background of high class football tournaments, the knowledge of a foreign coach comes down to the players benefiting them both now and when they leave the game as they pass it on (to juniors). But in international matches, result does not come only with foreign coaches.

Asked whether the slight built of Indian players has been an impediment, he said, "When you see Spain winning World Cup, doing fantastically with their physique, why not Indians. Though well-built physique is beneficial, it is not the only criteria, if you go by Spain's performance."

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