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Stephen Constantine believes India can benefit from Qatar’s youth policies

Stephen Constantine has stated that Indian football should follow Qatar in developing young players to build a talented squad.

football Updated: Jul 28, 2017 17:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Stephen Constantine,India national football team,2018 AFC U-23 Championship
Stephen Constantine’s focus on developing new talent has seen Indian football climb FIFA rankings from 173 to 96.(AFP )

India national football coach Stephen Constantine believes the country should take a leaf out of Qatar’s book when it comes to developing young talent.

Constantine was with the India U-23 side in Qatar as they attempted to qualify for the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship.

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Whilst many in the football world look at Qatar with suspicion, Constantine heaped praise on the Qatar Football Association’s (QFA) approach to nurturing talent.

“QFA’s policies led to Qatar winning an Asian U-19 title and Aspire (Academy) have been leaders in talent scouting in the Middle East and Africa,” he told Qatari website

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Aspire Academy recently inked a deal with Indian Super League side Delhi Dynamos and Constantine believes it is a step in the right direction.

“Their tie-up with Delhi Dynamos is a step in the right direction. Should it work, the next step could be for the QFA and AIFF to broaden the scope of the partnership.”

Constantine’s focus on developing new talent has seen India climb FIFA rankings from 173 to 96.

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He has also managed to reduce the average age of the side from 30 to 24, no mean feat considering how reliant the squad was on older players in the past.

However, Constantine is open to help and support from outside.

“Indian football will welcome any external support from transparent institutions with proven expertise in talent development. The QFA and Aspire will have valuable knowledge to share in the field of scouting, coach education, youth academy, nutrition and sports medicine.

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“The icing on the cake is that they are part of the larger Asian football family.”

Aside from benefitting from Qatar’s expertise, Constantine is also aiming to bring in expatriates living there to play for India.

“We conducted a trial in Dubai for about 300 youngsters and a couple of them ended up training in Germany with the national U-17 team.

“A future member of the senior Indian team could well be hidden somewhere in Doha,” he added.

First Published: Jul 28, 2017 16:58 IST