Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Two high-profile football coaches Bob Houghton and Brian Kerr presented their credentials before a select panel of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) as the process to pick the national coach was set in motion here on Wednesday.

Houghton and Kerr came out confident and were hopeful of the outcome even as AIFF awaits the arrival of Ian Porterfield, who has been delayed because of visa formalities in Florida, and the fourth candidate Clemence Westerhoff is yet to respond to messages.

Kerr, former manager of Ireland, was humble. "Look, listen, watch and learn," was his simple refrain. "I have some ideas. I will make my plans according to the situation," said Kerr, who had famously recalled Irish star Roy Keane, who had lost his place in the National squad, back into the fold.

Known for his versatility, Kerr confessed he had never seen India in action but observed, "I understand the style in Asia and the need to adapt. To put the plan in place is important. One should recognise that India has huge resources of people but sadly not enough players at the top level. But all these things can be worked upon."


Houghton, with vast experience of Asian football, conceded he knew little about Indian football, barring four matches in the Asian Games in 1998, and some fleeting action on the television, drew a rosy picture. "There is no reason why India can not do well. It is a huge challenge but India has a strong tradition for football. I do not consider it a major handicap because I consider India a sleeping giant that can produce a good team," said Houghton, who coached China, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia's noted club Al Ittihad.

When asked what would be his first priority if he landed the job, Houghton said aptly, "To win the next match." Kerr was to echo these words later.

The technical committee panel that met Kerr and Houghton comprised of C. R. Viswanathan, Henry Menezes, Pradeep Choudhury and Mohammad Habib with two other members, Inder Singh and A. Nagendran, not present.

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