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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Bhaichung Bhutia criticises India coach Stephen Constantine for tinkering too much

Bhaichung Bhutia felt Indian football team had a realistic chance to advance to the latter stages of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup but wanted coach Constantine to keep the core squad intact before the quadrennial event.

football Updated: May 15, 2018 22:04 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Bhaichung Bhutia (not in pic) feels Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine should build a strong core squad around players such as skipper Sunil Chhetri, and then build on it adding new and young players as they emerge.
Bhaichung Bhutia (not in pic) feels Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine should build a strong core squad around players such as skipper Sunil Chhetri, and then build on it adding new and young players as they emerge.(HT Photo)
         

Former skipper Bhaichung Bhutia criticised Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine, saying he has been tinkering too much with the squad composition and should focus on finding players to form a core squad and then keep it intact.

Bhutia felt India had a realistic chance to advance to the latter stages of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup but believed coach Constantine should keep the core squad intact before the quadrennial event.

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“You can’t keep changing it (the team). If you look at world football, you’ll see that the core of the team is always there and you bring in players who have done well in the leagues etc to the side and that’s how they manage,” said Bhutia.

“I think he (Constantine) should start working with having his core set of team and obviously as a coach he would know who are his more important players and then he can always experiment,” added Bhutia said, before lauding former manager Bob Houghton’s policy of retaining a core team.

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“In 2011 what we had was a core team. Bob Houghton really did not change the players much. I think we had a team that was together for a very long time and that is also something that’s required for the team this time around as well,” he added.

India exited the 2011 edition in the group stages itself and were clubbed alongside South Korea, Australia and Bahrain.

“I think we are still very lucky and happy with the group to be able to reach that ranking. But it isn’t going to be easy since it’s the Asia Cup. In 2011, of the three teams that we got, two went on to qualify for the World Cup, and another almost qualified,” Bhutia said.

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The former skipper went on to state that the team should try and focus on playing matches abroad to acclimatise to foreign conditions.

“We need to focus on playing outside India because playing in India and playing outside is a very different experience. They can play in Dubai and play against a lot of clubs in Dubai as well because the matches are going to happen in the UAE,” he added.

India will host a four-nation intercontinental tournament in Mumbai next month, with Kenya, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei as the other sides.