Bhaichung Bhutia puts to rest debate surrounding India's next coach

Amidst widespread debate surrounding as to who should be India’s next football coach, former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia has spoken his mind on the issue. The former India striker said that the profile of the coach, not the nationality, is what matters. “It depends on the kind of profile the person has. Indian or foreigner isn’t the question here. It is about the kind of work he has done,” Bhutia said. “It is very difficult to say whether I prefer a foreigner or I prefer an Indian. The decision needs to be taken keeping only the experience and the calibre of the person and nothing else.”

Coaches with longer stints have been more effective. Bob Houghton, one of the most successful foreign coaches, worked with the Indian team from 2006 till 2011. Stephen Constantine was the head coach from 2015 till 2019.

India achieved its best ranking (FIFA Ranking 94) in 1996 under the Uzbek coach Rustam Akramov and the lowest ranking of 173 was in 2015 when Wim Koevermans was in charge of the Indian team.

Meanwhile, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to participate in the upcoming edition of the King’s Cup in Thailand after four decades – India last participated in the tournament in 1977 – and a call on the next India coach is now a matter of priority but the national governing body has already expressed its inability to hire a high-profile coach owing to the financial constraints.