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Salman: Football in India has huge potential

17 April 2013 17:43

Asian Football Confederation presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa believes the sport can rival cricket in India.

With a population of more than one billion, you'd expect India to be one of the world's footballing superpowers but their current FIFA World Ranking of 149th suggests otherwise.

India have not qualified for a World Cup since 1950, and fallen behind to the likes of Japan and China, having not won a World Cup qualifier since 2004, where they beat Singapore 1-0.

Despite their lowly standing, Salman believes the sport can rival cricket's domination on the sub continent.

"India is a huge country with huge potential in developing the sport (football)," he said. "So I am sure India will be part of the development plan that we have.

"We want to focus on India and how to make football more progressive, more popular and to get more people to play the game.

"As you mentioned, for the population in the East - how can we compete with cricket? I'm not sure we can, but let's do our best and hopefully we will be successful."

Turning India's football fortunes around will not be easy.

They were beaten in qualifiers for the AFC Challenge Cup by minnows Myanmar last month, meaning there is a long road ahead if Salman's words are to become a reality.

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