The Blue Tigers’ head coach also revealed that a friendly match against Saudi Arabia could take place in November.
The Blue Tigers soared over Kenya’s as they clinched the Intercontinental Cup title at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday night, thanks to a brace from captain Sunil Chhetri. India lined up with their usual 4-4-2 with a full-strength team.
The Indian manager Stephen Constantine started off by thanking the thousands of fans that flocked to the stadium in numbers and went on to mention how it was not just a success for him and the boys, but also for Indian football.
“Firstly, I’d like to thank the unbelievable crowd that came in the last two games to support us. They’re definitely the extra man and I have to give credit to the players, they were absolutely tremendous,” he said.
Watch the full press conference here
Constantine was asked what part of Sunday’s victory he enjoyed the most, to which he answered, “The work-rate was phenomenal. Especially in the second half when we were tired and the Kenyans showed how tough they are even though they had a break of just two days, they were still able to put pressure on us.”
The Indian gaffer revealed that he wanted to rest Chhetri for the game against New Zealand. However, the captain insisted on playing.
“Sunil is unbelievably fit, looks after himself, complete professional on and off the pitch and that’s why he is able to maintain the level of fitness that he has,” the 55-year-old asserted before adding, “Obviously we need him to be there in the Asian Cup. I didn’t want to play him in the third game, but you know what he’s like, he starts moaning. We are a better team with him on the pitch than we are with him off it,” he claimed.
Constantine was adamant on having the national camp in Mumbai and told the media why he loved coming here. “The help of the people here in Andheri has been tremendous and Aditya Thackeray is a huge supporter. If there are any issues they get solved immediately which is why I like coming here. It is very important that we get the right atmosphere to prepare,” he asserted.
The coach also revealed that India would be playing a number of games leading up to the big Asian Cup om the UAE.
“There definitely will be two games in the camp before the Asian Cup. Our first game would be on January 6th and we’d also be looking to play a week before our first game.”
“In November, we are very close to an away game in Saudi. Again this is not 100%, but it’s very close. October we have one or two possibilities and in September we will be participating in the SAFF tournament,” he revealed.
The Englishman also took the opportunity to stress on his continued attempts to add strength and depth to the squad. “I’m always looking at all positions. We could see a left-back, a right midfield player. There’s always this search for talents,” he said.
The captain spoke about how when you contribute to the other parts of the game, it motivates the other players to do that too. “As a senior player in the squad, when you do the hard-work and come back to defend it rubs in the right way to everyone,” he mentioned.
He went on to talk about how one of the most important things that the team follows is that they don’t allow any negativity on the pitch. “One of the talks that we have is to make sure that there is no negativity because this also spreads. Somebody puts their head down, everyone puts their head down,” he elaborated.