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We cannot afford to be slow starters in every match- Constantine

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The India manager insisted his team must start afresh and be on top of their game to beat St. Kitts and Nevis...

Sitting pretty on the summit of a record 9 consecutive International victories (including the unofficial match against Bhutan), India manager Stephen Constantine prefers to “start afresh” today against St. Kitts and Nevis at the Mumbai Football Arena.

“We have to start afresh and we’re ready to do so.  We’re in a good shape and looking to finish off the job in a positive note,” Constantine mentioned in the pre-match press conference. “We were slow starters against Mauritius and we cannot afford to do that in every match.”

Captain Sandesh Jhingan, sitting next informed that the “half-time talk” during the last match did the trick. “The Coach insisted on the areas where we need to focus on. We worked on it and got the results,” Jhingan stated.

Constantine showed utmost respect for his counterpart as well who have salvaged a 1-1 draw against Mauritius.

“They have the potential and they proved it yesterday. Coming back from a one-goal deficit is not very easy but they did it. We have to be at our very best,” Constantine mentioned. “They are very dangerous on the counter attack.”

Also read India seek perfect 10 against St. Kitts and Nevis

Jhingan said that he’s enjoying the role very much and the armband is really what entrusts him with the extra responsibility.

“Representing the National Team itself is an honour. This armband is a bonus and it has come to me with a great responsibility. Sunil Bhaiya is our real leader but until he’s not there, I’m enjoying the role,” Sandesh exuded.

Meanwhile, on being asked whether some star players’ absence in the St. Kitts & Nevis side would help to set up strategy, Constantine felt otherwise.

“I feel it’s the opposite. The other guys who have come would push their limits to prove their worth and therein lies the danger for us. We’ve to be on our toes to win,” Stephen declared.

Lauding the “mental strength of the squad,” Jhingan pronounced: “Yeah, we did concede early in the last match. But we did not panic. Conceding is a part of Football but we knew we could come back strongly and we eventually got the three points.”

The Indian National Team has improved dramatically in the last two years- St. Kitts and Nevis head coach Jacques Pssey

St. Kitts & Nevis coach Jacques Passy declared the current situation of the Hero Tri-Nation Football Series 2017 as a “Two-nation tournament’ and tagged the match against India as “nothing but a potential final” at the pre-match press conference yesterday in Mumbai.

The kick-off between India and St. Kitts and Nevis kicks-off at the Mumbai Football Arena at 8pm and tickets are available on www.bookmyshow.com and at the Box Office at the stadium.

Lavishing huge praise on All India Football Federation for organising the Hero Tri-Nation Football Series 2017 for inviting the Caribbean nation to ply their trade in it, Passy said: "First of all, I want to thank AIFF from bottom of my heart for organising this tournament. They were kind enough to invite us and so we're here. It's a great gesture from them and on behalf of St. Kitts & Nevis contingent, would like to thank them,” Passy expressed ahead.

“When a country thinks beyond the geographical borders and shows the zeal to play against countries from the other continents, it shows the spirit of the Federation. India have the right potential to reach a greater height in the coming days given that they continue the process,” Passy added.

“The Indian National Team has improved dramatically in the last two years,” he stressed, repeating “dramatically” twice. The two strikers are very sharp and though possession is not India’s forte, I feel they have the right philosophy simply because in this era, possession is irrelevant. Rather what is relevant is a style of India and India has it,” he certified.

Also read Daring Mauritius held by resilient St. Kitts and Nevis

The eloquent coach went on to say that he believes in ‘no-excuse' logic on being asked whether the tight schedule of his team will dent his dream of beating India at their home.

"I'm a person who believes in 'no-excuse'. We were aware of the fixtures before touching down and now we can't complain about the fixture. Whatever ammunition we have, I believe we can put up a strong fight against India. Moreover, I can guarantee you that even if we lose, the tight schedule won’t be mentioned even once by us,” Passy explained.

On being asked whether the absence of Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will release some pressure from his team, he dismissed it completely.

“Definitely not! At the end of the day, it’s a team game and we have to face the Indian Team. Sunil has scored 54 goals in 94 games but the current bunch of players is really thriving to go and the spirit they showed against Mauritius was really inexplicable,” Passy mentioned. 

Meanwhile, St. Kitts & Nevis made a strong comeback to salvage a 1-1 draw against Mauritius the other night.

 

Published: Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:32 AM IST

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