Philem Dipak Singh
Doha, Jan 13 (PTI) Indian football players have been letdown by the AIFF''s failure to keep pace with other countriesbut the Asian Cup participation could prove to be a watershedfor the sport in the country, coach Bob Houghton said heretoday.
Houghton chose the platform of the pre-match pressconference ahead of India''s Group C match tomorrow againstBahrain to highlight the difference between the footballdevelopment programme in India and other countries.
"In regard to the players, the best example is RenedySingh. He has played for many years in a country with nofootball development programme, no infrastructure and poorcoaches," Houghton said.
"He (Renedy) is playing the Asian Cup at 32 years of age.
He has got to where he is with what''s been at his disposal,"Houghton said about Renedy, who addressed the media along withhis coach ahead of tomorrow''s match.
"When he (Renedy) was a U-19 player against Japan (inlate 1990s), the two teams couldn''t be differentiated. Fiveyears later, the difference had become huge and that wasbecause of J-League (in Japan) and the excellentinfrastructure there. The players have been let down by theAIFF," said the 63-year-old Englishman.
Houghton said the Asian Cup participation and some newdevelopments in India, including a 15-year USD 700 millionsponsorship deal (with IMG-Reliance), could see the beginningof a new era.
"We hope Asian Cup will be a watershed. We have a newpresident, new general secretary, new sponsors on board makinga significant impact. I hope this will be the start of Indianfootball''s rise," he said. .