Stephen Constantine’s India cautious but confident ahead of Macau clash | football | Hindustan Times
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Stephen Constantine’s India cautious but confident ahead of Macau clash

Stephen Constantine has asked the Indian football team to remain focused, despite their recent unbeaten run, ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Macau on Tuesday

football Updated: Sep 02, 2017 17:03 IST
HT Correspondent
India will look to take another step closer to 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification with a win over Macau on Tuesday.
India will look to take another step closer to 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification with a win over Macau on Tuesday.(AFP)

The Indian football team will be looking to continue their unbeaten run when they face Macau in a crucial AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifier on Tuesday. Sunil Chhetri’s men haven’t lost in their last ten games, and with victories over Myanmar and Kyrghyzstan, they will surely be confident of a good show against a side which is going through a five match winless streak.

India are fresh from winning a three-nation tournament in Mumbai, where they defeated Mauritius and drew with St. Kitts & Nevis. The competition allowed coach Stephen Constantine to test his bench strength, and the inclusion of six U-23 footballers in the squad is a good indication of how the coach feels about the youngsters.

In the last two and a half years, 30 players have made their international debut under Constantine. Indian football great IM Vijayan compared his strategy to that of Germany coach Joachim Loew, who won the 2017 Confederations Cup with a second string side.

READ | India squad for Asian Cup qualifier vs Macau named, includes six U-23 players

“Look at the last edition of the Confederations Cup and you will get your answer. Germany coach Joachim Loew preferred a team with an average age of 24 years and went on to win the tournament. Constantine is walking on the same path,” Vijayan told AIFF media.

Another former footballer – Deepak Mondal – was all praise for the Indian defence which had not conceded for three matches prior to the tri-nation series. Mondal said that the record shows the co-ordination between the defenders and it can be a huge asset for the side.

“I learnt they didn’t concede a goal for 300-odd minutes. That’s really stupendous in international football at any point of time. It shows that the defenders, the goalkeeper and others are perfectly synchronised and they’ve to maintain this until the job is finished.”

READ | Indian U-15 football team claim SAFF Championships title

The current scenario clearly points towards an Indian victory, but Constantine is not happy with his team’s finishing skills and he called the draw against St. Kitts a ‘wake-up call’ for the side. Talking to the media after the tri-series tournament, the coach said Sandesh Jhingan & Co should have not settled for a draw, although it was sufficient to help them lift the trophy.

“The game against St. Kitts & Nevis was a wake-up call for us. We made a mistake in defending a corner and we paid for it. To me, it was a lesson learnt as we need to be more focused and determined,” said Constantine.

The other big issue for the Indian side will be the weather in the island which has seen a lot of devastation in the last few days. Macau and the surrounding areas were quite severely affected with typhoon Hato, killing at least eight people and leaving most areas flooded.

Dark clouds and a spell of heavy shower greeted the Indian football team as they landed at the Macau International Airport on Saturday and with the forecast pointing towards more rainfall, the weather conditions can play a huge role in determining the result of the match.