The Indian gaffer pointed out the reasons for the defeat against the All Whites.
India succumbed to a defeat at the hands of a young New Zealand side in the Intercontinental Cup on Thursday. The All Whites won the game 1-2, after the Indian manager, Stephen Constantine, made seven changes to the starting lineup that defeated Kenya 3-0.
When asked about his decision to make seven changes to his team, the Englishman said,” It was always going to happen. We are using this tournament and the games we have between now and the Asian Cup, to prepare for the Asian Cup.”
“You cannot rely on 11 players to play from now to the end of January. We were always going to change the team. Obviously, we didn’t get the result we wanted,” he added. “It was important that some of the young players got an opportunity to play,” Constantine asserted.
This was a very clear statement of intent on the part of the Indian head coach on his side’s aspirations for next year’s continental extravaganza in the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, the loss to New Zealand gives the All Whites a chance to join the hosts in the final of the tournament.
“When you win two games, 3-0, 5-0, you get a bit carried away. New Zealand, albeit a young side, they’re disciplined, they played quite well,” the Indian coach said.
The 55-year-old also went to address the reasons for the defeat as he said, “We made some mistakes. We didn’t start off as we did in the previous two games. We scored first and then we let two silly goals in.”
“Individual errors cost us today, but this is part of the learning process. We are not going to go and beat every team we play 3-0,” he further added.
When questioned about the strength of his bench, Constantine asserted, “We started with seven players on the bench. You’re not going to have 11 Sandeshs or 11 Thapas or 11 Sunil Chhetris. You have to find these players and that is what we use these games for.”
Constantine also highlighted the fact that the game against New Zealand was played after the players knew that they had all but secured a spot in the final of the Intercontinental Cup, as a factor contributing to the poor performances of some of his players.
“One of the problems we have in India is that we don’t have too many big players. That’s why when we are trying to select players, height is not everything, but it has to be a factor in major tournaments, it has to be a factor.”, said the Englishman in response to questions about the loss of duels in the air.
Fans of the Indian national team will hope that their side can put the defeat behind them and carry on with a full-strength team in the showpiece of the tournament. They will also hope for stronger performances from the players who are not currently the first-choice for their country. Thereby, promoting healthy competition.