Qualification to 2019 Asian Cup top priority: Stephen Constantine
Stephen Constantine (Image credit- Goal.com)
Kolkata: The head coach of the Indian national football team, Stephen Constantine, believes that the tri-nation tournament involving Mauritius and St. Kitts will benefit the Indian team as it will prepare the team for the forthcoming AFC Asian Cup qualifier match against Macau on September 5.
“The two matches would immensely benefit our quest to maintain an all-win record in the Asian Cup Qualifiers,” said Constantine.
It is to note that India is still unbeaten in the qualifiers and currently top their group (group A) having won back to back matches against Myanmar and Kyrgyz Republic.
Stating that the top most priority of the team at the moment is to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, Stephen said that the team will assemble in a national training camp, to get back to match fitness.
“Qualification to the 2019 Asian Cup stays the priority. It will be nice to work with the boys again. They will be coming after a long break and we need to work hard for them to attain the fitness levels which are required for an international match.”
“The boys need to play matches to understand each other better,” added Constantine.
The 97th ranked country recently has been on their finest run in the last 21 years, not only winning 13 of their last 15 matches (that includes an unofficial match against Bhutan), but also breaking into the top 100 for the first time in FIFA rankings.
The team has improved to a great extent in the recent years. Players like Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan, Jeje, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and the others have reached their potential and playing regular international matches has benefitted the Indian team to a great extent.
Constantine also had a big role to play in the recent uprising of the Indian national football team.
India were ranked 171 when Constantine took over in his second stint as the head coach. Interestingly, the team slipped further down to 173 in FIFA rankings even before Constantine could take charge in his first game against Nepal.
But the giant leap to enter the top 100 shows the effort and passion he has put into the job. India next play the Champions Cup which is a tri-nation tournament to be held in Mumbai.