Philippines national football team coach Sven Goran Eriksson believes that countries like India, China and the United States of America will play a vital role in shaping the future of modern day football.
The former England coach spoke to the media before India's loss against Bahrain and said that qualification to the last-16 for India as well as Philippines, who play Kyrgyzstan on January 16, could be immense for both countries where football is not the primary sport.
Speaking to ESPN, Eriksson was asked about the importance of progressing in competitions like the Asian Cup and the coach started by stating, "It would be very good. Especially when the country's No.1 sport is not football. I hope the whole of India talked about you (India) beating Thailand."
Talking specifically about India's win against Thailand, Eriksson claimed, "In football, you know you can have big luck, [and] you win 1-0. But you (India) dominated the game and you scored four goals. Wow!"
Sven-Göran Eriksson calls India's thrashing of Thailand the "biggest surprise" of the tournament so far.— ESPN India (@ESPNIndia) January 13, 2019
He is in conversation with @debayansen in an exclusive interview: https://t.co/I5J93dGJxW #AsianCup2019 pic.twitter.com/fjKKwgwEso
He continued, "The whole world who saw that match [felt] they were physically good, technically good players. Working hard. And maybe Thailand was....I'm sure they were surprised with what's going on here. And if you are not 100 percent, it's difficult to change to win the game. All merit to India."
Eventually, Eriksson moved to the angle of the domination of European and South American countries at the World Cup stage but said that he would want to see the likes of India, China and United States compete with the best football playing countries in the world in the near future.
He said, "World Cup...you shouldn't say this...but unfortunately, it's like the Euro and you put in Argentina and Brazil. That's the teams who can win it. And I hope for football that changes. I'm talking about India, China, United States. Big countries, but football hasn't changed. How many Messis do you have in India if they had the chance to play?"
Finally, the 70-year-old coach moved to the statement that all Asian and American football fans should care about as he said, "It's not that India, China and the United States need football, but football needs these three countries. Because it will be even bigger. Football needs you."