The former national team tactician also expressed his opinion on the introduction of the 3+1 foreigners rule in Indian football.
Ahead of the upcoming 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season, former Indian national team head coach Stephen Constantine has hinted that he is keen on returning to the country – this time at any top flight club that would be interested in acquiring his services. Speaking to The Times of India in a recent interview, Constantine revealed that there is a possibility of him coming back to India.
“I was away from home for six years and needed to go back and spend time with my family. I have had several calls from clubs in India since I left, but I didn’t want to come straight back into coaching after stepping down. But, I always missed the day-to-day routine of club football. Being at a club means I can do more to help the players and coaches in the academy and oversee their development. India has been good to me and there is always a possibility to come back,” said Constantine, who is currently in Limassol, Cyprus.
Almost all ISL clubs have already named their coaches for the upcoming season – with Kibu Vicuna, Juan Ferrando and Stuart Baxter joining Kerala Blasters, FC Goa and Odisha FC respectively among other teams. Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United are the only two teams still in the hunt for a boss, having not yet replaced Owen Coyle (who joined Jamshedpur FC) and Robert Jarni (who was sacked during the 2019-20 season) respectively.
Hence, Constantine still feels that he has a chance to return to India and ply his trade in the ISL. The Englishman opined that his familiarity with Indian conditions and players will help him well provided he lands a role. “When I first took charge of the Indian team, we were 176th in the FIFA rankings. But, I had a plan of developing young Indian players. When I left, we had given 49 players their international debuts and qualified for the AFC Asian Cup. We also won three International tournaments as well, with our U-23 team coming runners-up and had a 14-game unbeaten streak too,” he explained.
However, the 57-year-old also made it clear that he cannot be lured with just a big package, stressing on the importance of challenging for bigger and better goals. “I won’t be coming to an ISL team because they are offering me a big salary. I want to be at a club who have specific plans and objectives and want to qualify for the AFC Champions League,” the British coach asserted.
Stephen Constantine, who is also a UEFA Pro License holder, has kept himself updated with the changes in Indian football, as understood from his stance on the ‘3+1 foreigners rule’ which will be introduced in the ISL from 2021-22 season.
“I had begged the powers that be for this 3 +1 rule. How else is the national team going to be able to play consistently at the Asian Cup, if we don’t have enough Indian players playing regularly at their clubs. The ISL is now the top league, but we must not forget the contribution of the I-League,” he said.
“The biggest change which has not happened so far is that Indian coaches have not reached a level that an ISL club would want them to. The coach education is weak and we need to be producing good quality Indian coaches,” concluded Stephen Constantine.