Spain's Exit From the World Cup Most Shocking: Bhutia

New Delhi
Spain's Exit From the World Cup Most Shocking: Bhutia

Former Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia is shocked at the early exit of defending champions Spain and picked Germany as his favourite to go all the way to win the ongoing FIFA World Cup.

"I didn't expect Spain to go out so early. Nobody expected them to make a first-round exit. England were also in a difficult group. But the most shocking result was Spain getting out in the first round," Bhutia said today.

"After watching the first round, I think Germany are very very strong," he said on the sidelines of 'Google Cafe' event.

Bhutia said Spain coach Vincent del Bosque made a few mistakes while choosing the starting line-up.

"Sometimes coaches and managers do get it wrong. It was the starting line-up that del Bosque got wrong. (Diego) Costa was definitely injured and not well but started both the group games. He was not fitting well into the system," he said.

Del Bosque had led the team to victory in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

Asked who is his favourite goalkeeper, Bhutia said, "In this world cup, Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa has been outstanding but overall my favourite is German goalie Michael Neuer."

The ongoing World Cup threw some unexpected results and also saw some gutsy performances and Bhutia said the difference between the top and the 32nd team in the World Cup has reduced.

"There is not much difference among the teams and it is visible from some of the results. This is the reason why it has been a great World Cup. Smaller teams are now going on to beat bigger and better teams," said the 37-year-old. 

Asked if India can ever qualify for the World Cup, Bhutia, who is the chairman of All India Football Federation (AIFF) technical committee, said it will take a lot of hard work for the 154th ranked country to play in the World Cup.

"You cannot say never, but yes we got to do a lot of work. It is going to be a great challenge. U-17 World Cup will be very crucial. We have to focus at the grassroot level and it is very important.

"On the whole, when we talk about Indian football, we talk only about the federation (AIFF). But we can really change the game at grassroots with help from clubs, districts and the state associations. Officials at the state and the district level lack the commitment. Clubs also have to contribute a lot in terms of youth development."

Often nicknamed the Sikkimese Sniper, Bhutia was the first to play for an English club, Bury FC in 1999 and the former India striker said overseas club experience will give a lot of confidence to Indian players.

"Right now, we have young players who can really make it and they need to have that kind of exposure to play outside. It helps you a lot in terms of confidence and also psychologically. It makes you very competitive. It does really help," he said.

Bhutia also hoped that India would benefit from the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL), a franchise-based football tournament, that is scheduled to be held later in the year.

"It will definitely do good to Indian football," he said.

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