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Stephen Constantine: India vs Kyrgyz Republic winner will be team who wants it more

Desire not rankings will decide outcome, says India coach Constantine ahead of Tuesday’s AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Kyrgyz Republic.

football Updated: Jun 12, 2017 22:38 IST
India vs Kyrgyz Republic,Stephen Constantine,AFC Asian Cup
India coach Stephen Constantine believes desire, not ranking, will be what decides the outcome of their AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Kyrgyz Republic. (AFP/Getty Images)

Bangalore: The thing with Fifa rankings is that either way teams can use it to their advantage. The one ranked higher says it doesn’t matter as India coach Stephen Constantine did here on Monday ahead of the 2019 Asian Cup group A qualifier against Kyrgyz Republic. And should the side ranked lower lose, they may well say that was supposed to be.

Sometimes though, Fifa rankings don’t tell the tale. North Korea played the 2010 World Cup finals having been ranked between 113 and 86 in the years of the qualifiers. India (rank 100) will be hoping that is not the case with Kyrgyz Republic (rank 132).

“It will be decided by who wants it more,” said Constantine.

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One reason for their ranking is Kyrgyz Republic played only one qualifier and six friendlies in 2016. In that time, India played two World Cup qualifiers, won two Asian Cup qualifiers, a SAFF Championship final and two friendlies. This year, the White Falcons, who have some players based in Europe, have played only one match. In 2017, India have played three games, including friendlies against Cambodia and Nepal.

Anyway, it wasn’t too long ago that Kyrgyz Republic were ranked 108 to India’s 166.

Constantine also said Kyrgyz would be the favourites.“They are experienced and have quality through their team. They will be difficult to break down. We are a team on the up but it will be a big challenge.” India are unbeaten since March 29, 2016.

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“We’re in the middle of a league, have some players based in Europe and so we don’t need to make a big preparation. We want to qualify as the top team from the group,” said Kyrgyz’s Russian coach Aleksandr Krestinin. Two teams go through to the finals in UAE.

Constantine though is confident if it’s a battle of stamina, he would back India to beat anybody.

Under him, India have been efficient. With Sunil Chhetri’s hamstring having healed, India have reasons to hope. “No game is easy, but it’s been a while since we’ve felt so confident,” said Chhetri.

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The last time Chhetri played here, his free-kick helped Bengaluru FC seal an AFC Cup zonal semi-finals berth. That was on May 31 and the goalie who let it in was Pavel Matiash, likely to be Kyrgyz’s shot-stopper on Tuesday.

First Published: Jun 12, 2017 22:32 IST