Wednesday, July 05, 2006

India now seriously hunting for "expatriate talent"

India needs expatriate talent, self-belief and patience to re-build its football team, according to new national coach Bob Houghton. He said India should start playing friendlies on a regular basis to improve its ranking and allow the team to avoid running into seeded teams early in international tournaments. "To be ranked 117 is a major underachievement for a country with this sort of resources," he said in an interview after taking charge of the national camp.

He stated that one of his first priorities is to tap into overseas talent. "There are some players of Indian origin playing in Europe, some quite good ones actually, and in England and Holland. It is possible that if, logistically, you get them and secondly if they are interested, if you can get three or four players, it will definitely strengthen the level." Footballers such as Michael Chopra, who will play in the English second division for Cardiff City in the coming seaso, and some in the South African league are the targets.

Only Indian passport holders can represent the national team. However, rule changes allow persons of Indian origin to acquire a passport. FIFA regulations allow players with dual citizenship or nationality, who have not played international soccer above under-23 level, to apply to change the country they represent as long as they do it before they are 21.

See also: Houghton impressed with enthusiastic India squad (28 June)

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