Angry Houghton threatens to quit

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New Delhi, Jun 26 (UNI) Miffed at all the criticism being levelled at him after the SAFF Cup debacle, Indian coach Bob Houghton has threatened to leave if people want him to.

''If someone out there really suggests that I am not needed, I will not take much time to say 'Thank you very much' and part company,'' Houghton said. ''I have been doing my job with utmost dedication and passion. I am trying to help out Indian football in the best way I can.'' ''Only eight months are left out in my contract. Yet I have been constantly talking about youth development and what India should do to realise their 2018 World Cup dream. I will not be benefited from that. Still I am saying it because I want Indian football to progress,'' he added.

Houghton faced flak from several quarters after India lost the SAFF Cup final to hosts Maldives on June 14.

When asked about the reason for India's SAFF Cup loss, Houghton replied, ''In the Nehru Cup, the only player to get injured was Deepak (Mondal). In the SAFF Cup, too many players were injured - Ajayan, Surkumar, Manju, Steven Dias, Renedy Singh. It was a big setback.

''I sometimes ponder what the AFC is all about. In the SAFF Cup, we were made to play five matches in 11 days under the scorching sun and on a ground that was harder than a marble floor. Whatever maybe the opponents, you can't play any better football under such circumstances.'' When asked as to why he did not try out some youngsters for the national team considering the poor bench strength of the Indian squad, the coach said,''If there are 70 Indian footballers playing regularly in the I-League, I know at least 60 of them very well. You name a talented youngster and he has been called to the camp. But you cannot experiment with the national team. You are there to win matches.'' He pointed out the weak structure of Indian football and emphasised the need to put a proper system in place.

''What is needed is to put a system in order. A good I-League played in the weekends along with state league matches in the mid-week will throw up a lot of new players. Tell me, how many I-League clubs allow the youngsters to play regularly?'' Hoghton remarked.

The Englishman further mentioned of certain experienced men in responsible positions expecting the coach to create some magic and take the team to glory.

''There are some people, who think that someone like Scolari and Hiddink would be able to take India to the top. That's a fairytale idea,'' he stated.

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