Stephen Constantine steps down as Indian national team head coach
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
The Englishman announced his decision in the post-match press conference following the defeat to Bahrain.
In the aftermath of India’s heartbreaking elimination from the AFC Asian Cup, head coach Stephen Constantine has announced that he’s stepping down from his role as the manager of the national team. During an emotional post-match press conference following the 0-1 loss to Bahrain, the Englishman announced that he will not be continuing as the boss of the Blue Tigers any more.
Mr. @StephenConstan has announced his resignation as the Head Coach of the Indian National Team. We haven’t received any official communication from him yet but we accept his decision & thank him for his contribution to #Indianfootball: Mr. Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF pic.twitter.com/S792tJ6r1h— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) January 14, 2019
“Stephen Constantine is stepping down after this game. My objective from day one was to qualify for the Asian Cup. I’ve broken a few records at that. I’m exceptionally proud of the players for everything that they’ve given," Constantine said.
"I’m extremely thankful to the AIFF, to Mr. Kushal Das and Praful Patil and the others. The support they’ve given me in the last four years has been huge. I think my journey is finished. I’ve done what I was asked off and quite a bit more. I think it’s time for me to move on after four years in India," he continued.
Constantine left the conference in tears after watching his side fall to a loss after fighting hard throughout the game. Despite starting the Asian Cup with a blast by thrashing Thailand 1-4 thanks to some inspiring gameplay, the win alone wasn’t enough to take the Blue Tigers onto the next rounds. Heading into the final match, at least a draw was necessary to even go through as one of the four best third-placed teams.
“See the last time I was in India 2002-05, I left the team and the football country in a better place than it was when I joined. Fast forward 2015-19, they are in a much better place than in 2005. We have a crop of young players. I think the future is theirs," the Englishman said in the press conference.
"They need to qualify for these tournaments on a regular basis to be successful. They have the talent pool to do that. I wish them nothing but the best," he added.
However, Jamal Rashid’s last-minute penalty ended India’s hopes of making the knockout rounds, 55 years after they had last done so in the 1964 edition of the tournament. Despite helping his side to play a brand of attractive football in the first two games, Constantine came under fire for lowering the tempo in the final game. The Blue Tigers played like the India of old, trying to force a draw before destiny would trample them over.
Having taken over the team in his second reign as manager in January 2015, Constantine helped India qualify for only their fourth AFC Asian Cup campaign in history. In his four-year reign with the side, the tactician also led the Blue Tigers to win the SAFF Championship in 2016 and more importantly break into the top #100 in the FIFA rankings. He also helped India win the Intercontinental Cup last year as well as making it to the final of the SAFF Championship in 2018, with a U-23 side.
The team will now return to the country and the Indian Super League is expected to resume soon thereafter. However, the AIFF now has a task on its hands to find a replacement for him.
Regardless of what happens, one can never undermine the work Constantine has done in helping Indian football rise in the past couple of years. Khel Now would like to thank the coach for his work with the national side and wish him all the best for the future.
Published: Tue Jan 15, 2019 01:08 AM IST