India "needs 10-12 years" to play in World Cup

India's national team captain Baichung Bhutia feels it will take at least another 10-12 years before his country can make it to the FIFA World Cup play-offs. “The day we start working at the grassroots level, have good infrastructure and good coaches to shape the budding talent and a quality coach at the helm, may be 10-12 years after that you can scream for the Indian team which would be playing the World Cup,” he told media.

Although Bhutia welcomes the idea of a star foreign coach at the helm of the national team, he guarded against expecting too much too soon. “Big star foreign coaches are not gonna change the face of Indian football drastically in a short span of time,” he said. “But we can learn a lot form them and it will help in the longer run. And then we can pass on the expertise to the up and coming players. A foreign coach may not help us win an Asian Games gold medal or a berth at the World Cup finals, even if he is producing one or two extremely good players from a pool of 1000 players, it will be a job well done,” he added.

On why once mighty Kolkata clubs were lagging behind in domestic football, the East Bengal striker pointed out the lack of trust between the players and club as the chief reason. “There is no trust between the players and club in Kolkata. You have to be happy with the club, if you have to perform. On the other hand, clubs like Mahindra Utd and Dempo are more organised and professionally run. I think bad days are really ahead for the Kolkata clubs,” he said.