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India need to cross-pollinate with FIFA: Campbell

Kolkata, Oct 28 (PTI) Former English defender Sol Campbell feels India are on the path to match the nations who are 50 to 100 years ahead and urged for more "cross- pollination" with FIFA.

"You have to start somewhere. A lot of other countries have got 50-100 years ahead of India. You have to say what we need to patch up. But you are on the right path after the success of U-17 World Cup here," Campbell said.

"I heard National Centre of Excellence here, that will help. You have to improve the coaches, the coaching development. The more information you get the more seriously you take football.

"FIFA being here will help them a lot. Conversation should continue. The more conversation you have with FIFA, the more centres, that cross-pollinating will eventually help," the member of the FIFA Technical Study Group said during a news conference.

Campbell, who has turned out 73 times for England between 1996 and 2007 and made over 400 appearances in England's Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal among others, said there is a way to play and qualify, something India would have to learn sooner than later.

"India has their own DNA, every country has their own DNA. If you go far from that DNA you will lose yourself. You have to understand how to play, qualify and win a game. There's a way -- the DNA of getting through the qualification. Find your DNA in India and work with that.

"You have to bring in the experts, understand how to connect with the players on the pitch. All this will come through experience. The more they play, the better they will get."

Acknowledging India as a cricket powerhouse, the former centre-back said: "It will take time and will not happen overnight. You have to understand that cricket is a major sport here. But you have a lot of people who enjoy football, you have to tap into that."

Campbell also urged for a proper screening of the players.

"It's how it gets transferred up into the domestic team. The players who are really good are not getting chances higher up in the first team. That has to change."

He further spoke about England's dominating show in the tournament.

"It's all about future now, these guys have played extremely well. It's all about how they progress after that. Last few years have been really fantastic football, it's healthy."

Impressed with the standard of the U-17 World Cup, he further said: "The quality has been fantastic and the players physical ability also has improved. It was not like this 10-15 years ago. That's an improvement for sure. The skill, knowledge, positioning of the game game has definitely gone up to another level."

Citing example of Mali, he said: "They showed fine skill and understanding of the game. They are working together as a team which is commendable for their nation and the African continent as whole. They are moving in the right direction."

Giving a thumbs-up to the facilities at the Salt Lake Stadium, he said: "You have done a great job, the FIFA has acknowledged this. Infrastructure is a big thing. I heard a lot of traffic here but it still flows. Definitely a thumbs- up

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