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Rediff.com  » Sports » Santosh Trophy most nonsensical, says Houghton

Santosh Trophy most nonsensical, says Houghton

June 18, 2009 19:00 IST

India's chief football coach Bob Houghton has questioned the feasibility of some major tournaments in the country, including the National Championship, for the Santosh Trophy.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday, the Englishman said, "If you want to continue with the Santosh Trophy you can do so, but then do not expect any change in India's standing at the international level. This is one of the most nonsensical tournaments."

Houghton, who will leave with the national team for a 10-day training camp in Dubai on June 25 en route to Barcelona on July 7 for a month's training in preparation for the Nehru Cup, slated for August 19-31, rued official apathy towards the game after failing to find a ground to prepare for the international tournament.

"We're in India in 2009 and we can't find one training field. People don't believe you when you tell them. I have looked for everything; I went to three different venues but could not find a place where I can train the guys. So we need to go to Dubai," he said.

He wondered how the country can expect to raise standards when the game is not being taken seriously.

"We will continue to be 114 in the world ranking the manner in which the game is played.

"In Dubai we have state of art facilities for training, practice, medical treatment, physio, assistant coach, but the same cannot be said of the facilities that are available at Indian football grounds, he added.

He took a swipe at the I-League clubs, saying none qualifies to be called a professional club.

"We need to look at the quality of the I-League. It doesn't follow the criteria needed for a profession league," he said.

The 61-year-old Englishman disclosed that there was a time last year when he thought of quitting but decided to stay back because of the players and those involved in the game.

"General secretary of the All India Football Federation Alberto Colaco knows about it," he clarified.

Houghton said the dispute between Mohun Bagan and India captain Baichung Bhutia is "ridiculous" and could have been avoided.

"Baichung had informed the club before he appeared in the dance sequence in a television show. And yet the club in question had the cheek to suspend the national captain, who in retaliation said that he would never don Indian colours," he said.

"Baichung is an asset to the country. Had it been the case with the national team, we would have  laughed it over. In no way I would have taken it to the AIFF executive committee," he added.

Mohun Bagan have suspended Bhutia for six months, unsatisfied with the striker's reply to the show cause notice slapped on him after he skipped practice sessions and an exhibition game to take part in the dance reality show.

Onkar Singh in Delhi