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We will not be complacent; We can’t afford it: Stephen Constantine

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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The India U-23 Football team is looking good with I-league regulars Jerry Lalrinzuala, Vishal Kaith and Daniel Lalhlimpuia leading the charge.

The India U-23 team is set to play the second of its two friendlies on Wednesday against the Singapore U-23 team away. After winning the first leg 1-0 courtesy of a curler from Germanpreet Singh late in the second half, the visitors will look to return from their South Asian journey with two wins as they look to prepare for the AFC U-23 Championships qualifiers starting from July 15 to 23rd.

The team played an attacking and speedy game in the first encounter which took place on Sunday evening. Playing in a flexible 4-4-2 system, Shillong Lajong goalkeeper Vishal Kaith (who’s been retained by FC Pune City) looks to have made the goalkeeper role his own. Kaith showed immense maturity under the bar, keeping two dangerous attacks on both sides of the interval at bay.

Watch: Full Match- India U-23 1-0 Singapore U-23

Captained by Lalruatthara, the defence looked calm with ISL Emerging Player of the Tournament 2016 Jerry Lalrinzuala at the left and Bengaluru FC’s versatile full-back Nishu Kumar on the right. Lalruatthara was partnered with recent East Bengal signing Ranjan Salam Singh at the heart of the defence. In the midfield, talented prospect Anirudh Thapa and Germanpreet Singh had a good day at work. Nikhil Poojary and Nandha Kumar flanked the right and left side respectively, with Bengaluru FC youngster Daniel Lalhlimpuia and Manvir Singh up top.

Talking to media after the game, Singapore U-23 manager Richard Tardy said, ““We will try to reduce the mistakes we made and try to keep more of the ball. When we recover the ball, it gives us a chance to break on the counter; unfortunately, we lose the ball too easily and it’s something we need to work on. We were decent on some occasions but the final pass was just missing. Before we can talk about our defensive side of the game, we need to get into good positions especially when on the attack.”

The manager also dwelled on the performances of his players. He shared, “In the last game, some players satisfied me with how they played. Hanafi played a full game, Ikhsan is coming back to a good level with each passing game; Irfan (Fandi) and Adam Swandi also did well, so I’m glad to see that happening.”   Remaining optimistic, Tardy concluded, “I know we need to get results, but I prefer to be compact in our style of play.”

Also Read: Match Report: India U-23 see off Singapore U-23 in tight encounter

Visiting manager Stephen Constantine looked a happy man. Constantine on the eve of the game, said,"“We will not be complacent, in fact, we can’t afford it. I will be looking to improve on our performance as much I am sure Singapore would be looking to improve on theirs."

The manager also dwelled on the negatives of the last game, saying, "“Yeah, we wasted a great deal of possession and scored on the only shot on target."

The win was the 9th International victory for Constantine, the previous 8 having been achieved with the Senior National team. The match also is Constantine’s 4th away victory in an International match.

Exclusive: Questionable Selections by Stephen Constantine as U-23 squad travels to Singapore

“Winning an International Friendly away from home is always pleasing. The fighting spirit was evident from the kick-off itself,” he added. “Technically we were better, we were fitter, we were stronger. We dominated but just couldn’t make the right move at the right time.”

“But we can’t get carried away. There is a lot of work still to be done, and as I said, we have learnt a few lessons too,” he reiterated.

India next play Singapore in the second International Friendly on July 12 (Wednesday). The two International Friendlies have been arranged to help the U-23 squad prepare for the forthcoming AFC U-23 Championships where India have been drawn with Qatar, Turkmenistan and Syria from July 19 in Doha.

The match will be broadcast LIVE on Khel Now.

Published: Tue Jul 11, 2017 04:40 PM IST

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