Baichung sings paeans for Houghton

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New Delhi, Aug 20 : National football captain Baichung Bhutia feels that coach Bob Houghton's reputation is less appreciated in India than abroad because of lack of football culture in the country.

''Bob is hugely respected coach outside the country, we knew it when we recently toured Portugal. He was treated just like coach of Benfica team there,'' Baichung told journalists at the sidelines of a practice session here.

India recently toured Portugal as part of preparation for the ongoing five-nation ONGC Nehru Cup and played friendly matches with Portuguese second division sides, besides visiting the stadium of top Portuguese club Benfica.

Houghton has coached national teams of China and Uzbekistan and reputed clubs of Europe, North America and Asia including Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia.

Baichung said, ''Al Ittihad is one of the biggest clubs in Asia and you imagine Bob has been its coach. In India, football is not a prime sport, so Bob is not known by many people here.'' ''Bob is the best coach I have played under. His understanding of the game, his ideas and training methods will serve the country's football well,'' the Sikkimese added.

Meanwhile, Houghton is all praise for Dempo midfielder Climax Lawrence, describing him as the best creative midfielder in the country now.

''Climax is an important member of the side. He is the best creative midfielder in the country,'' said the 58-year-old Englishman when asked if anybody can take the Goan player's place in the remaining matches of the Nehru Cup.

''He has a great football brain. He wins balls, has a good header and can shoot also, so he is a very important member in the Indian team,'' said the former Fulham midfielder.

Houghton was appointed as India coach in June last year for a three-year stint.


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