Constantine stresses the need to win home qualifiers ahead of Kyrgyz Republic clash
The Indian football national team resume their 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification campaign against Kyrgyz Republic in a Group A encounter at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Both sides registered 1-0 wins in their opening encounters and will be looking to establish control of the group by going top with another victory.
This will be India’s first home game in the qualifiers, making it even more crucial for the Blue Tigers as head coach Stephen Constantine alluded to while speaking exclusively to indiansuperleague.com. “There are six games we need to play. We have always said that we will try to win our home games because if we win our home games, we get nine points. And nine points could be the number to qualify for the Asian Cup,” Constantine said.
“We had a very good start winning against Myanmar. Kyrgyz Republic will be a different situation. They're a strong side and although their FIFA ranking don't reflect that but they're capable and have strong players. They know how to play football, they have a background of football and it will be a very difficult game,” he added.
India head into the contest with a seven-match winning streak and will be confident of another strong showing. Constantine, however, understands what they are up against. “I think when you're winning games and you're playing well, you have that confidence. We'll be confident of taking a good result against this team but make no mistake, it won't be easy so we'll have to fight and I'm sure we will,” he said.
Expanding on why Kyrgyz Republic will be a difficult proposition, the Englishman added: “Kyrgyz Republic also won their last game. People look at the result with Macau and think they only beat Macau 1-0 but I'll tell you Macau is not a bad side. You looked at Guam [referring to India’s World Cup qualifying away defeat in 2015], and everyone thought Guam wasn’t a problem and will be an easy game but there are no easy games for us. If we don't fight, if we don't play hard, if we don't play well, we will be in trouble. We have to be at our best and hopefully we will.”
Tuesday’s encounter will also be the national side’s fourth game this year and Constantine feels that it’s imperative for the Blue Tigers to spend more time together and grow familiar with each other. “What we have to think about is that when the national team plays 7-8 games in a year, they're together five times a year. It doesn't give much opportunity for the players to bond on and off the pitch so the more games you have, the more time you spend, the more time you have to train, the more time you have to practice things and then the routine things you do in the training sessions become habit,” he said.