Houghton feels rankings don’t reflect team’s quality

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NEW DELHI - Chief Coach Bob Houghton was a relieved man as India won their international football friendly against Nambia 2-0 after dropping 22 places to the 160th spot in the latest FIFA rankings released Wednesday.

India, who are now 160th in the FIFA rankings, didn’t play any international match in the past nine months, resulting in the 22 place drop, which is India’s biggest slide since the inception of FIFA rankings in 1992.

Houghton pointed out that India’s slide in the rankings will continue if they don’t play enough international matches in a year.

After the win, courtesy goals from Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Anthony Pereira, against 116th ranked Namibia, Houghton said that more such wins would raise India’s rankings.

“FIFA rankings are a very tricky thing. It works on a three-year basis and our rankings points from last year’s Nehru Cup were dropped. Today we defeated a much higher ranked team, so every time one cannot judge the quality of the team from FIFA rakings. We have just beaten a side which is 44 places above us, so what do you make of it,” said Houghton, adding that India have to play more international matches to come up in rankings.

“This is the start and hopefully we will play more international matches by the end of the year in our preparations for the Asian Cup. The AIFF has tried really hard to get as many matches as possible in September but the fact is that they (foreign teams) don’t fancy coming to India because they know the facilities are not great here,” Houghton said.

The Englishman, however, said India have progressed with the win.

“But overall, after playing three games in the last 12 days, I think we have made progress. We are better in terms of fitness, our passing has improved, we are better organised. It’s just the question of getting the balanced right,” said Houghton said.

“I think we have got to defend the way we did against Thailand but we attacked better tonight,” he said.

“Gouramangi Singh and Anwar Ali did a very good job. Mahesh Gawli also did fine while Abhishek Yadav was ok and Bhaichung is Bhaichung,” Houghton said.

The coach, however, defended US return striker Sunil Chettri, who had another unimpressive day.

“He didn’t had the best night and it was just one bad day for him, but he was alright in the last two games against Thailand,” he said.

Namibia’s Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet felt that his boys played better than India.

“We played better than India and had more ball possessions. My team lacked good strikers. India were lucky for their two goals. The first one came from a deflection and I think the referee erred in giving the free-kick from which India scored the second goal,” he said.

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