Solve the ''zero infrastructure'' problem first: Houghton

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Doha, Jan 18 (PTI) India will remain a football laggarduntil the "zero infrastructure" problem is addressed by theauthorities, according to National coach Bob Houghton, whofeels the country''s participation in Asian Cup after 27 yearswill help to change things.

Houghton lamented that things proceed in the country at aslow pace and there was no result of economic growth infootball infrastructure.

"You are talking about a country that has zero footballinfrastructure. We have, I think, one stadium in the whole ofthe country that meets the criteria to host a World Cupqualifier and that''s in Chennai, where there is no footballand it''s an athletics stadium," Houghton said.

"We have no training facilities � and I mean that � whichis why when we get the national team together we have to gooutside the country to find somewhere to train. If you have noinfrastructure then it''s almost impossible to organise aleague because there are no grounds to play the matches.

"Our matches kick off at 3 o'' clock in the afternoon andare played on surfaces that no self-respecting top playerwould play on and in 35 degrees of heat at least. Therefore,the games are very slow and maybe players run three or fourkms compared with the 10 or 11 you''ve got to do when you cometo Asian Cup," Houghton told the official AFC website.

"The AFC President came to India three years ago and saidIndia is 100 years behind and then he came last year and saidnothing has changed. I don''t know how long or how many timespeople have got to say that to get the authorities to come togrips with it but it''s not being done," he said.

The Englishman who took charge in mid 2006, however, isconfident that football landscape in India is set to changeafter the Asian Cup participation, the first time after 1984.

"I think there is a determination now in the country,from the AFC, from FIFA that Indian football needs to move on.

I don''t think people will throw their hands in the air andgive up. I think people will do the opposite and people willsit down and focus on what is fundamentally wrong with thegame in India and how do we change it.

"I genuinely believe that being in the Asian Cup willmove everything on," he said. .

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