The Falcons were defeated by the Blue Tigers in the reverse fixture in June last year.
A day prior to India’s last group league match against the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek, National Coach Stephen Constantine has said that “regardless of our qualification, we’ll push for a win.” Constantine was speaking at the official pre-match press conference on Monday (March 26, 2018).
“We haven’t come here to lose,” he stressed. “Our objective was to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 and we have achieved our aim. From now on, it’s part of our preparation for the Asian Cup to be held next year,” he added.
The kick-off on Tuesday is slated for IST 7.30pm.
India are currently at the pole position in Group A with 13 points from 5 matches so far. The last time the two teams met in Bengaluru, Sunil Chhetri’s sublime strike made the difference between the two teams.
Constantine also dismissed the speculations that the cold weather in Bishkek may play a crucial role. “The weather is not playing any crucial part,” he clarified.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who was also present at the press conference stated that “there isn’t any added pressure.”
“Kyrgyz Republic are a very strong side. They recently won against Myanmar and have also qualified for the Asian Cup. We respect them as an opponent. We want to win and as coach said, the match is a part of our preparation towards the AFC Asian Cup next year”, he mentioned.
Moreover, Constantine declared that “India will play for a win.”
“I always play to win and never to lose. When you represent the National Team you are never playing for a draw. The result might be a draw but we won’t play for a draw,” he quipped.
Gurpreet highlighted the importance of a solid back four which lays the bedrock for the success of any team.
“Not only us, every team needs a solid back line. We have conceded few and have been able to put pressure on our opponents. The plan worked for us. We’ll look forward continuing doing that”, he said.
The first leg of the fixture in the last year, where India beat Kyrgyzstan in a 1-0 showdown in Bengaluru, Zemlianukhin Anton was forced to go out following an injury after an unfortunate clash with Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. The Indian custodian, who was present at the press conference in Bishkek on Monday was asked if the 26-year-old thinks he is responsible for the injury of Anton, where Sandhu responded in a very calm manner.
“I think it was a very unfortunate incident. Some things even I can’t take back. Whenever I step on the field, I play for my nation and I try to do everything possible to prevent any attacks. I am very sorry about that the player got injured. It was not something that was in my control, if it was I would have taken it back.”
Alexander Krestinin, the head coach of the Kyrgyz Republic National Team, expressed that his team is seeking nothing less than ‘a revenge’ against the group-leaders India on Tuesday.
“Despite playing a valiant football, we lost in India and now we have the opportunity for a revenge in our home. We will, by no means, let the opportunity go off our hands”, Krestinin expressed.
The Kyrgyz Republic are three points shy of India having played five matches in the qualification round and the Central Asian team have already qualified for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 akin to their counterpart.
The coach stressed that tomorrow is a match where “both teams would start from zero.”
“Yes, we have already qualified but the qualification process isn’t over yet. Tomorrow is a new match and we both will have to start from zero. We’re ready for the challenge and we are ready to face India at our home.”
Moreover, they secured the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 confirmation berth having hammered Myanmar a mammoth 5-1 victory in their last outing. Coach lauded his team’s performance and stated that they would like to continue the momentum tomorrow as well.
“We had a great victory against Myanmar to qualify but the process is still on. Our preparation is going according to the plan and we look to secure another victory ahead of our own fans”, the 39-year-old gaffer opined.
Skipper Anton Zemlyanukhin got another feather to his cap recently having scored the maximum number of goals for the national team but the striker brushed it aside before the final encounter of the AFC Asian Cup qualification round.
Incidentally, the coach had to substitute him pretty early owing to an injury in the previous leg played in Bengaluru. The prolific striker stated that he would like to make amends for that miss tomorrow.
“Firstly, I would like to share this credit with all my teammates but most importantly, that’s going to play no part in tomorrow’s game. Unfortunately, I had to come out of the pitch too early in the previous leg. I’ll try my best to make the opportunity count in front of our own supporters”, Zemlyanukhin sounded confident.