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Constantine: India will stand tall

Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Stephen Constantine - India head coach

Abu Dhabi: Stephen Constantine needs no introduction to Indian football fans. The Briton first managed India between 2002 and 2005, and since January 2015 he has been in charge for a second spell with the South Asian nation.

Under him, India have made steady progress. Ahead of India’s fourth campaign in the AFC Asian Cup – they previously qualified for the 1964, 1984 and 2011 editions – Constantine reveals his thoughts in an exclusive email interview with

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What are your thoughts heading into the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019? Tell us about your preparations, your hopes and aspirations.

Well, it's obviously a great honour and a privilege to be here among the elite of Asian football. We started to prepare for this as soon as we had qualified mathematically from the group which we won. Of course, I would have liked a few games going into the tournament but on the plus side, we are fit and have no injuries so we are looking forward to the challenges ahead.

How different is the team now in terms of attitude, skills and focus. What have you done different, compared to the team before, say in 2011? Will the 2019 Asian Cup help raise India's profile in football?

A: I think there is a huge difference in terms of how we prepared back then. We are now using sports science which has been very instrumental in how we prepare and that we are able to keep our players in good shape on and off the field. Although we have not had the six-month-camp the boys had in 2011, the current batch has been playing in a competitive league and of course that breeds competition amongst the players.

The quality of the players was there in 2011 as it is now but I feel there is a more holistic approach now to then in that we are able to use the GPS systems to ensure that the loads we give players are manageable and we are able to monitor players who have the usual niggles and separate them from the others, put them on different programmes and so on.

We are also using video analysis and are able to look at what we do right and correct and improve ourselves on a daily basis so I do feel there has been an upgrade in the preparations for this Asian Cup. Without a doubt, this will, of course, raise the profile. It is after all the World Cup for Asia the biggest tournament we have in Asia.

What are the things India has to get straight to become an Asian football power?

A: Well the main one for me is coach education. If we have better coaches we will have better players but we really need to focus more on this and that then leads into youth development. We need to be producing players all over India as there is no doubt we have the talent but we need to be starting earlier.


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India are in a pretty tough group which includes Bahrain, Thailand and hosts UAE. What are your thoughts on this and how would you go about it?

A: Any group we were drawn in was going to be tough but we are here by merit the players and staff have worked extremely hard and all deserve to be here. We will give a good account of ourselves and make India proud, and as we always do take one game at a time.

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