The prayers of many football fans were heard by god and an Englishman came to India in 2006 and was appointed as the coach of the Indian National. Well that’s Bob Houghton India’s second most successful coach of all time. The time when he came to India the condition of Indian football was very pathetic. It was this man who played the role of a chief architect and directed the team towards the right direction.
The former Fulham player started his coaching carrier at the age of 21 and has been the assistant manager to the likes of Bobby Robson. He is most famous for taking Swedish amateur club Malmö FF to the 1979 European Cup Final, where it lost to Nottingham Forest. Then later he managed clubs in USA, Canada, Greece and Switzerland. He then later became the National team coach of China in 1997 and he led them to their first modern age victory against Japan and won the Bronze Medal in the 1998 Asian games and he left china in 1999. All this are showing that how good he is bringing up the Underdog teams or in other words grooming up teams with very little entity.
He after coming to India he understood the fact that Indian Football needs recognition from grass root level and started working from the base itself. He has started working on the junior teams and some good progress has been noticed, the performance by Under 16 team last year was also spectacular. The team has already ranked 17th in Asia and have arranged to get U-13 camp and U-19 camp. So in all levels they are making progress and particularly with the AIFF Training center, GOA, they have kept the U-16 boys in the camp for 18 months which made a big difference in their performance.
Since his arrival in 2006 he has been not shy at implementing new Ideas and techniques and most importantly developing winning habits for the team. His appointment saw a general progress in India’s performances crowned by victory in the Nehru Cup in August 2007. Houghton led India to the AFC Challenge Cup title as they beat Tajikistan 4-1 in August 2008. Winning the AFC challenge cup eventually qualified them for the Asia cup for the first time since 1984. He also oversaw the Indian team to its second consecutive Nehru Cup trophy win in 2009. The defeat against Thailand was the 2nd defeat in the last 17-18 matches. This stats itself states that he has generated a winning attitude among the players.
He has developed an English style of playing with lots of long balls, crosses, and headers all this are being brought into the practice. They have become more vicious in there counter attacks. The main thing which Houghton brought in which other coaches failed to do is to get the players recognized in international level. The Delhi lad Sunil Chetri has got his deal done with USA’s Kansas City and the other team mates like Gourmangi Singh and Subrat Paul got various offers from different international clubs.
Bob Houghton has kept the team united and has developed a love and passion among the players for the team. The respect and praise from the players for the coach is clearly evident. It is altogether a good sight of improvement by team both in terms of performance and dedication.
Bob has dedicated to Indian Football a great deal and is surely one of the names to go down in the history of Indian Football. It would be very interesting to see how he develops his team for the mission Qatar. A victory today against Yemen will surely boost the confidence of the team as it would be the last international friendly before the tournament.