Houghton impressed with enthusiastic India squad

India will be aiming to pick up its first points in the AFC Asian Cup 2007 qualifying campaign, newly appointed national coach Bob Houghton told Navhind Times. After losing their first two games 6-0 to Japan and 3-0 to Yemen, India is at the bottom of Group A and will play Saudi Arabia at home in their third match on 16 August. "We would like to earn points against Saudi Arabia and Japan and if we can do it, I think it will be a major step forward towards achieving greater goals in the future. I like the players’ attitude and the boys are quite disciplined and willing to learn enthusiastically,” Houghton said in Goa.

He stressed the need to scout a few quality players from the youth team. “If we can build a team with a few good players who can really make a difference to the team’s performance then it will motivate the team,” Houghton, who earlier coached China and Uzbekistan, added. “The emphasis will be to improve the current senior side’s performance and simultaneously work with the juniors keeping the future interests in mind."

As previously reported by Asian Football Business Review, India will take part in the four-team Vancouver tournament in Canada from 19-23. The event also includes Vancouver White Caps club, China U20 and Cardiff City teams.

Houghton also confirmed that the All India Football Federation is planning to persuade players of Indian origin to appear for national selection. “It’s a good idea if we can succeed in spotting talent abroad it could very well galvanise Indian football in a positive way,” he said.

See also: India prepares for first matches under new coach (23 June) and India's "Project World Cup" for South Africa 2010 (16 June)