Baichung Bhutia, the name synonymous with Indian football for the masses, is of the opinion that for India to qualify for the World Cup, a complete overhaul of systems is required and the sooner that is attended to, the better.
In an interview to a football magazine, the former Indian skipper was questioned as to what was a realistic target for qualifying for the world’s grandest stage of competition.
Baichung was forthright in his assessment and highlighted the importance of youth development.
Bhutia is of the opinion that for India to qualify for the World Cup, a complete overhaul of systems is required.
“Well, first we should make sure that a proper system and structure is in place at clubs and nationally, where youth development is given top priority. Hypothetically, if that starts tomorrow, then we can look at a target of around eight more years. Till the time that we don’t do that, we can look at another 800 years,” said Baichung.
When asked as to when India could qualify or host any kind of World Cup, he replied on a lighter note saying,” would have to just hire a parrot and ask it to pick up a card!”
The president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Praful Patel had declared that India are to bid to host the 2017 U-17 World Cup when FIFA president Sepp Blatter visited the country back in March this year.
Baichung remains optimistic of India’s chances of hosting the mega event as it would give them a chance to develop the infrastructure.
“U–17 is realistic. I think it’s important we do it. Whatever the results may be of the national team, does not matter. Infrastructure development will happen, we might have some financial support from the Government of India and from FIFA to get that infrastructure developed, and then things can start from there. So even if we end up losing by a big margin, I don’t mind,” Bhaichung was quoted as saying.
Original interview given to 90 Minutes, India’s only football magazine.