Prior to India’s match against Mauritius in the Hero Tri-nation International tri-series, National Coach Stephen Constantine says that despite the recent good run, “we are not in a position to overestimate our ability.” In a freewheeling interview, the Coach opens up about strengths of Mauritius and St. Kitts as teams, the importance of the Hero Tri-national series, staying away from complacency and much more. EXCERPTS:
Q : You are back in Mumbai with your squad. How is it special?
Constantine : As the National Team, we need to feel comfortable whenever and wherever we train. Mumbai offers the warmth which makes the Team feel special. People here have been outstanding and I need to thank Mr. Praful Patel, Mr. Aditya Thackeray and WIFA for looking after the squad in a special manner. We hardly face any problems here and the authorities are always willing to go the extra distance to help their National team. I will always keep coming back to Mumbai.
Q : What is the importance of the two forthcoming International Friendlies?
Constantine : I have always advocated for us playing an International Friendly before a Qualifier, and this time as we have the time and the season hasn’t started as yet, we have been able to squeeze in two. I thank my colleagues in the AIFF for arranging that.
The back to back games will be immensely valuable for us to get back into the groove. It always takes a bit of more time when the boys are coming back from a layoff. These two games are immensely important.
Given the fact that India have won 13 of the last 15 matches (including the unofficial match against Bhutan), what are you doing to keep away the complacency?
We take each game as it comes. We are not in a position to disrespect our opponent or overestimate our ability. We are a very hard working team and have developed the spirit in the team. We won’t be giving in, no matter what. I keep telling the boys that we haven’t yet achieved our goal.
Q : What is that?
Constantine : The ultimate goal is a qualification to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. Once we are able to achieve it, we will set another ourselves another goal. There is no room for anyone to get above their station, myself included. All we have done is to put ourselves in a position from where something can happen. But we need to ensure that we achieve our target. If we become complacent, we won’t.
Q : How do you rate Mauritius and St. Kitts as teams?
Constantine : Mauritius are a Team that plays in the CAF and you can never underestimate any Team who play there. Having been there, I am aware of the level of which one plays there. They have some experienced and it will be a stern test for us.
The same goes for St Kitts as a team. They hail from the Caribbean region and are strong, athletic, fast and most importantly, know to play the sport. Regardless of the FIFA Rankings, both are very tough opposition. It’s the test which we need prior to our match against Macau.
Courtesy : AIFF Media Team