Bob Houghton is the most experienced coach in the 2011 Asian Cup. A former manager of China and Uzbekistan, the 63-year-old is now in charge of the Indian team that has made its return to the Asian stage after 27 years.
India's head coach Bob Houghton in Doha, Qatar
In a career that has already spanned over 40 years, Bob Houghton has worked all over the world, starting off in England before moving on to Sweden, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, the US, China and Uzbekistan.
India's national players practise in the monsoon rains
Journalists say that he has left a lasting impression in most of these places, and he has already had considerable success with India since he took over in June 2006.
The team has won the Nehru Cup twice and the AFC Challenge Cup once in 2008, earning them a place in this year’s Asian Cup.
Sleeping giant of world football gets exposure
India, known as the "sleeping giant" of world football, have thus had more exposure in the past four years then ever before.
Bob Houghton has helped the players build up self-confidence. "We qualified after 26 years and that is the biggest influence," says captain Baichung Bhutia. "I think we’ve had great results in the past three years. We need to do well. Just qualifying is a great achievement."
Houghton watched as his team lost their first two matches in Qatar, 0-4 to Australia and 2-5 to Bahrain
"I think you can see the results," agrees midfielder Renedy Singh. "The Nehru Cup, the way we qualified for the Asian Cup. I think it's an honor to play under him and I’m sure every guy in the team would say that. We have improved so much under him and we can only move up now."
Relationship between coach and players has to be right
India captain Bhaichung Bhutia is enthusiastic about his team's progress
Houghton is of course flattered that his team members seem to think so highly of him, especially as he has said the assignment is his toughest so far.
"The most important relationship in any football organization, whether a club or a national team, is the one between the players and their coach," he explains. "If that's not right then there is no success."
Last year, Houghton renewed his contract with the All India Football Federation until 2013 and the end of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, but a discussion on whether he stays on as coach after the current Asian Cup is due when the tournament is over.
"I only hope and pray that he stays longer," says Renedy Singh. "If he stays Indian football can only improve."
Houghton, who has already left a legacy by qualifying for the Asian Cup, says he does want to further develop football in the country, as he has tried to do everywhere he has worked so far.
Author: Arunava Chaudhury
Editor: Anne Thomas