Houghton’s Dilemma

Posted: April 11, 2011 in Asian Football, Indian Football

The Indian Football Team’s Chief coach Bob Houghton picked an experimental side for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in March but stated that he would return to the regular senior side for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June. Before the start of the Challenge Cup qualifiers, this seemed like a sound strategy but with the young guns showing great character and tenacity to finish at the top of the group, this plan may need to be reviewed.

New stars in town

People may not agree with me, but in the absence of Baichung Bhutia, Houghton lacked candidates to play as support to Sunil Chhetri. Mohammed Rafi hasn’t found his feet at the international level and as far as Abhishekh Yadav is concerned; well, the less said the better.

Jeje Lalpekhlua

Meanwhile, Jeje Lalpekhlua (Indian Arrows) has come into form at just the right time. He is in the right frame of mind, scoring lots of goals(4 goals in 3 international games) and the perfect replacement for Bhutia who is now probably in the swansong of his career.

However,I feel it’s time to unleash one of Indian Football’s best kept secrets. Robin Singh (East Bengal). At 6 ft, he is the answer to Houghton’s search for a physical target man. Physical, Skilled and an uncanny eye for goal. The boy from Noida was a key man in Bengal’s 30th Santosh Trophy win. Due to the somewhat similar nature of Chhetri and Jeje, Robin Singh would be a perfect fit for the role of  second striker and will compliment the long ball tactics of Coach Houghton.

The emergence of such talented strikers who are in a rich vein of form poses a selection headache for Houghton.

The Midfield Conundrum

The Indian midfield is the weak link of the team. The midfield is unable to retain possession and lacks composure on the ball. When fit and in-form, Renedy Singh is spectacular, with a great range of passing and a hammer of a left foot.

However, his age is a cause of concern and by the time the AFC Asia Cup 2015 in Australia comes around his career would be in its twilight. The midfield should be revamped with youngster’s like Lalkrinde Ralte(Indian Arrows), Jewel Raja (Indian Arrows) and Reisangmei Vashum (East Bengal) performing exceptionally well in the I-League.Houghton should look to gradually phase out the in-effective and ageing mid field by bringing in newer, younger legs in the form of Ralte, Jewel and Vashum.

Bob's Dilemma

With the spectacular form of these young players bringing them into the national fold, Houghton will have a pleasant selection dilemma on his hands.

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