Asian soccer needs to ‘match up’ to catch up – Roxburgh

Posted on: October 13th, 2019 by
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Roxburgh, who took his native Scotland to the World Cup finals in 1990 and the European Championship finals two years later, joined the Asian Football Confederation as the head of their technical department last month.


Having worked in 60 countries the 71-year-old is no newcomer to Asian football, having first worked on the continent more than 30 years ago, and told a select group of journalists on Wednesday that Asian soccer must “match up” to its international rivals to stand any chance of winning major honours.

“There is a passion for football in Asia, and when you have that passion and talent to go with it you’ve got a chance.” the rake-thin Scot said.

“But South America, Africa, CONCACAF, everyone dreams of winning the World Cup. It’s a competitive world but if we in Asia don’t match up to the top countries in the world in terms of development work, then what chance have we got?

“The first step is that Asia must match up to the best they have in other continents, that will give us a better chance.”

Roxburgh has not been given any specific targets at the start of his two-year contract but at the very least, wants to put foundations in place to make Asian soccer stronger and that includes improving coaching methods.

“We need to establish a coaching convention and bring the top coaches together because if you don’t have progressive coaching education you are always going to be limited,” he added.

“If you look at the last three World Cup winners, you have to say, ‘how did they get there?’ and one of the reasons is coaching education and the other is player development. They are the two keys to success.

“You can sit and cross your fingers and hope a great player will turn up, but you could wait for ever. The great thing is to design your way forward.”

Asked how long it might be before an Asian country might win the World Cup he replied: “I cannot predict that.

“Japan have a target of winning the World Cup in 2050 but I’ve told them they might have to wait, because Germany will probably win it again that year,” he joked.

But on a more serious note, he added: “Clearly there was disappointment at last year’s World Cup in Brazil (when all four Asian teams crashed out in the group stage). There were some good performances, but the results did not match up.

“But there has been Asian successes at the Olympics, in youth competitions, in the women’s game, so that proves Asian teams are capable of achieving.

“There is a lot of potential but now we must make progress.”

(Editing by John O’Brien)

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