Team India players all on same level: Bhutia

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Male, Maldives, Jun 13: Sounding confident ahead of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup final against Maldives tomorrow, India skipper Baichung Bhutia said there are no reserve players or benchwarmers in his team.

''There is not so called bench or reserve players in the Indian side. Almost all the players play at the same level,'' Bhutia told maldivesoccer.com.The 'Sikkimese sniper' asserted that Indian football still has a long way to go before meeting world standards and needs to put a proper youth development programme in place. ''Well, we still need a lot of improvement in lots of areas.

We don't have a youth development programme at all,'' Bhutia said. ''Almost all the players, who are playing for the national team was spotted on the streets by their respective clubs.'' ''We got plenty of talent in India, but a regular programme is needed to strengthen it,'' he added. ''Grass root programmes should be more planned in India and clubs also should take a leading role.'' The 31-year-old from Tinkitam praised coach Bob Houghton and credited him for India's recent successes in the international arena.

''One thing for sure. All the success we have achieved so far should entirely be rewarded to Bob. He is the best coach that I have worked in my football career,'' Baiching stated.

The Bhutia-led India will go into tomorrow's final in Colombo against Maldives looking for their fifth SAFF Cup title.

UNI

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