India coach Houghton slams Bhutia debacle

NEW DELHI - India's oldest club and the national team captain have been branded as "losers" by the country's coach for a public war of words that culminated in a lengthy ban for the player.

The Kolkata-based Mohun Bagan slapped a six-month suspension on talismanic striker Bhaichung Bhutia on June 8, saying he ignored his training duties to appear in a reality television dance show.

The row, played out in the full glare of the media, has left India's English coach Bob Houghton furious and added to his frustration over a lack of training facilities for a team trying to prepare for the 2011 Asian Cup final in Qatar.

"Everybody is a loser in this thing," he told reporters.

"Bagan are losers because the club looks ridiculous," he said. "Bhaichung is a loser because he is forced to read that sort of articles about himself for the last two weeks.

"And Indian football is a loser because our game has been ridiculed with a big club having a public slanging match with the captain of our national team.

"Indian football is worthy of better leadership."