The Federation has already begun the process to appoint the Englishman’s successor post AFC Asian Cup 2019.
On January 16, 2015, a bespeckled Englishman returned from more fancied shores to the Indian football fold to replace a certain tactician from the Netherlands to take over a side and turn it around. With unabashed command, Stephen Constantine took the role of the Indian national team coach and the side thrived on the FIFA rankings’ table.
The Englishman received an extension earlier this year, but after four years, the AIFF is in no mood to extend his contract for more time which is set to run out in March, Khel Now understands.
Sources have also indicated that Constantine’s position is independent of India’s journey at the team’s performance at the AFC Asian Cup in January and the top brass at the AIFF has already started the search for his replacement. The major consideration would be given to the manager’s experience with international sides. However, former Bengaluru FC head coach Albert Roca is seen as the early front-runner, a person close to the developments revealed to Khel Now on condition of anonymity.
India have played a rigid, defence-first gameplay under the 56-year-old tactician, with his tactics and selections regularly scanned across media platforms. Constantine has left a legacy of not selecting players in good form and has continued to keep faith in a select batch of players, who seem to ride on the coach’s confidence and have delivered time and again.
After eight years, India are back at the continent’s elite competition and captain Sunil Chhetri will share the bulk of the credit alongside the manager, with the relationship between the pair in tatters, according to several reports. It was also reported, twice, over the course of the last few months, that Chhetri wanted Constantine to be replaced, given his rigid and non-creative brand of football.
Reports of a rift were also rife in mid-2018, with a bunch of senior players asking for his sacking during a national team camp before an AFC Asian Cup qualifier. President Praful Patel had then put around his weight and had asked cooperation from the players, who relented upon his intervention.
Since then, Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu have all exchanged the armband. Chhetri was reportedly out for two weeks with an injury and was not picked for the Jordan clash, but the Bengaluru FC forward miraculously returned early for his club, adding fuel to fire.
A lot of fans have time and again demanded a more creative, on-the-ball style of play from Constantine and with a change likely at the helm, the voice behind the players will expectedly grow louder. Khel Now will keep you updated about the story and related developments.