Maldives will be tough, says India's Constantine

Friday, September 14, 2018
Stephen Constantine - India head coach

Dhaka: With India having secured a summit clash with Maldives in the final of the 2018 SAFF Cup at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka on Saturday, head coach Stephen Constantine reflected that the "final will be a tough one".

"Maldives have shown their worth in the semi-final against Nepal. A 3-0 win against Nepal was not an easy task. Some of their players didn't play against us and they did some major damage work against Nepal,” Constantine stated. “We are expecting a tough game against Maldives. But as I said before, we have come with a strong intent to win the tournament.”

Manvir Singh, who scored a brace against Pakistan in the semi-final to win his successive MVP Award of the tournament, said the focus has “already shifted to the final.”

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"It was a group of tough guys and the job was never going to be an easy one. But we had the self-belief to churn out the positive result and eventually, we did,” said Manvir (pictured below).

"Now, we have another major task and we will need to focus on the final. We are working as a unit and we just need to keep our heads down and continue the work,” the 23-year-old striker, who is leading the goalscorers’ chart with three goals, insisted.

Constantine added: "These boys have a carrot in front of them which is a berth in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup squad. They are well aware of the fact that they need to perform constantly to earn the same.”

India were drawn with tournament hosts United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Bahrain in Group A of the Continental showpiece on January 5-February 1.

For Saturday's final, India will have the psychological advantage of having defeated Maldives 2-0 in the group stage but as Constantine said, the final will be a different ball game.

Maldives put aside their struggles in the group stage - where a coin toss gave them a place in the semi-finals at Sri Lanka's expense - to defeat Nepal in the semi-finals.

Head coach Petar Segrt did a massive job in getting his players to rise against Nepal and he will surely do it again against India.

The SAFF Cup 2018 final will kick-off at 7.00pm (IST)

Sources: All India Football Federation, Lagardere Sports

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