Asian Games 2018: Stephen Constantine urges Indian government to send football team to Jakarta

Mumbai: Indian coach Stephen Constantine has urged the Indian government to send it’s U-23 team to the upcoming Asian Games in Jakarta, suggesting the large contingent of young players in the squad will be “hugely benefited” from the exposure.

“We need more games and if the government is listening. Send us to the Asian Games. It is an U-23 event. We have 11 players in this squad who are U-23. The benefit is huge that we will gain from the Asian Games with these players,” Constantine said after India’s 3-0 win over Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup.

File image of Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine. Image courtesy: Twitter @IndianFootball

File image of Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine. Image courtesy: Twitter @IndianFootball

The government and the Indian Olympic Association have always been reluctant to send the Indian football team to Asian Games, as their performance levels haven’t been up to the mark for the authorities to spend a part of their budget on a sport where the medal prospects are bleak.

However, according to an Indian Express report, India’s good recent form and qualification for the AFC Asian Cup has given hope to Constantine to make his team play more games before the big event in UAE in January 2019.

The Englishman, though, was delighted with his team’s performance in their 3-0 win over Kenya which he termed as a “hard-fought win” despite the one-sided scoreline.

“The work rate from midfield, especially in the second half, the back four and front two was phenomenal. We have three and half years worth of numbers on how hard we work during games. The game against Chinese Taipei was one of our highest in terms of work rate. We deserve to win in the end,” the Indian coach said.

Sunil Chhetri, once again, starred for The Blue Tigers as he bagged two goals to make his 100th game for the country a memorable one. Constantine said he was “delighted” to see Chhetri score twice before acknowledging the support shown by the Mumbai faithful.

Before the game, the skipper had posted a video on social media platforms pleading people to come and watch the team play and get involved in Indian football. After the video went viral, the people answered Chhetri’s call and produced a packed house. Constantine, though, didn’t get overjoyed about the situation, telling that it is something he expects.

“I said before we shouldn’t be begging people to come and watch the national team. The response today (Monday) was unbelievable and that is what I expect,” the Englishman said.

“When your national team is playing the way we have been playing and achieved the things we have achieved in the last three and a half years, it was hugely disappointing to see such a crowd in the last game. They more than made up for it today. I thank every single one of them and I expect them to be there in the next two games,” he added.

India play New Zealand at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday in their final group game. The hosts have one foot in the final after wins in their opening two matches, and their healthy goal difference should see them through despite a reverse in their final game.

The final of the Intercontinental Cup will be played on 10 June.


Updated Date: Jun 05, 2018 09:23 AM

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