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'Lesson for India in APOEL success'

Among other things, Stephen Constantine feels there is a lesson for India in Apoel Nicosia's fairytale run that has taken the Cyprus club to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. Dhiman Sarkar reports.

sports Updated: Mar 27, 2012 00:19 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

Among other things, Stephen Constantine feels there is a lesson for India in Apoel Nicosia's fairytale run that has taken the Cyprus club to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.

"If a country that is smaller than most states in India can achieve so much, what is that we are doing wrong in India is a question that needs to be asked," Constantine, 49, who was India coach from 2002-05, during which India won the LG Cup and were runners-up in the only Afro-Asian Games, told HT in an e-mail.

"I had said many, many times that the potential is there in India if only you would concentrate on the good of the game. I had suggested that we have a system where state leagues would act as qualifiers for the national league, somewhat like it is in Brazil. That way most states would have an incentive to organise their football and hold leagues."

The Anglo-Cypriot and Fifa coaches' instructor now helms Nea Salamina FC, a first division club in Cyprus who beat APOEL 1-0 in the domestic league this season.

Constantine said Cypriots are hoping their team won't get destroyed in the two-leg quarter-final like FC Basel and Bayer Leverkusen one round earlier.

"Not too many are thinking of victory. People here would be happy if the scores are close on Tuesday," he said. The Nicosia derby between APOEL and Omonia Nicosia on Friday ended 0-0, "but you could tell their (APOEL) minds were on the Real game."