Constantine predicts bright future for India ahead of AFC Asian Cup
Stephen Constantine oversaw another commendable display by his Blue Tigers as they held Oman to a goalless draw in Abu Dhabi yesterday. The Englishman must have been happy with what he saw and would now be better able to gauge the preparedness of his players ahead of the AFC Asian Cup which kicks-off in about a week’s time.
Naming a relatively young squad for the showpiece event shows that the Englishman is far from scared when it comes to giving youth a chance. Speaking the morning after the Oman tie, he stated, "I never differentiate between seniors and juniors. They are all playing for India. I'm not interested in their ages, but their abilities. Our average age is about 25. The situation is fantastic for Indian football where we can foresee a team for the next 10 years.”
Proceeding on the same note, Constantine said, "After this tournament, we'll have a young Indian squad with an experience of playing in an Asian Cup.”
Turning his attention to the Oman fixture, Constantine felt particularly satisfied with the hunger of his players. "It was a very good game for us. Oman were a very difficult opponent and have been unbeaten in the last 12 months. The boys worked very hard and I'm very pleased with the positive result. It was phenomenal from the work-rate perspective. The numbers are exceptional. We were superb physically," he argued.
The Blue Tigers will be carrying the burden of renewed expectations from the entire country on the back of positives results in the last three friendlies. Constantine however, urged his players to perform to the best of their abilities without giving too much thought to what’s expected of them.
The Englishman was quoted saying, "There's no pressure on us. Four years before no one expected us to qualify. After we qualified everyone was thinking that we are going to lose the three games. It’s up to us to prove that we deserve to be here.”
Lastly, the 56-year-old reminded his players to find their ruthless edge quickly after failing to make the most of whatever chances they had in the Oman game. "We won't get 6-7 chances in these sort of games. We need to convert the 2 or 3 which we get. We gave the ball cheaply at times. We try to score in every game, but you are not going to score in every game,” Constantine opiniated.
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