Sol Campbell: India on the right path

According to former England international Sol Campbell, who had a 20-year-long playing career in the Premier League, India should be patient in its approach. The former star was speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the under-17 World Cup final at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday.

A file picture of former England international Sol Campbell.   -  Getty Images

Well known England and Arsenal footballer Sol Campbell feels that India has stepped on the right path and can develop its standard by taking some concrete steps.

Campbell, who is a member of FIFA's technical study group, said India should bank on the opportunity of staging the under-17 World Cup to catch up with other countries, which are far ahead of the South Asian nation.

“You have to start somewhere. A lot of other countries are 50-100 years ahead of India. You need to patch up. You are on the right path, have hosted the under-17 World Cup and got exposure. A training centre is coming up in Kolkata. That will help. You have to go around the world and get more information,” said Campbell at a press conference on the sidelines of the under-17 World Cup final at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday.

According to Campbell, who had a 20-year-long playing career in the Premier League, India should be patient in its approach. “It will take time. It is not going to happen overnight. You need more centres, more conversations with FIFA. It is happening now and will help. You have to be mindful of how to play, how to qualify and how to win matches. The experience will make the players better.”

The 43-year-old, who played for England 73 times between 1996-2007, expressed his happiness over the overall standard of competition in the under-17 World Cup. “Ten or 15 years ago it was not like that. Now there is improvement in skill, knowledge, positioning and tactics. Pleasure for me to see that. Everything has gone up a notch.”

He cited the example of Mali to underscore his point. “Mali had skill, understanding the position and were working together as team. It is commendable and Mali is moving in the right direction.”

Campbell was also proud of England's youth development programme in recent years. “Last two years they have taken care of the under-20s. That's fantastic that they have produced England players for the future. In the last few years they have played fantastic football,” said Campbell.