Indian gaffer Stephen Constantine revealed the squad’s overall development has been his only focus on the tour.

India U23 boys’ gutsy display against the three-time A-League champions Sydney FC has earned them a very special fan, none other than Steve Corica, Head Coach, Sydney FC. On an exclusive interview with AIFF Media, he labelled Constantine’s boys as ‘a good side to face’ and the game was nothing less than ‘another good step’ during the pre-season.

“They were a good side to face and they moved the ball well. they played a compact game which was a good test for our team. We considered this game as another good step in our preparation for the upcoming A-League season.”

After conceding two late goals in the first half, the Indian boys showed their diligence in the second half to push the Sky Blues back to their own half. The hosts found the back of the net once again in the last quarter of the match but Corica shared a useful advice for the boys.

“Just continue to train hard and work on all aspects of the game, keep on improving and striving to be a better player in future.”

On being asked whether he’d pick a standout performer from the Indian team, he stated that they played the game as a cohesive unit which is the primary aspect of a football team.

“I couldn’t pick one single player, as a unit, they were well-drilled and performed admirably.”

Moreover, the former Leicester City midfielder wished the Indian contingent before they head to Dhaka for the SAFF Championship.

“We wish the Indian U23 side best of luck for the upcoming SAFF Cup and we’re sure they’ll put on a good performance”, Corica signed off.

India will kick-off their SAFF Suzuki Cup campaign against Sri Lanka on September 5, 2018.


India U-23s fall to defeat against Sydney FC

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Coach Stephen Constantine who has roped in mostly on U23 players for the forthcoming SAFF Championship informed that “another group of players” are now better prepared for the future, thanks to the over-a-month-long preparatory camp and the exposure trip to Australia.

“We focus on every single aspect of the game during our camp and we look to work cohesively. We continued the same process with these boys as well and we can say that after the SAFF Championship, we will have another group of players who will be a little more prepared for the future, say the AFC Asian Cup in January”, Constantine stated before the team play their final friendly fixture in Sydney which is scheduled against Rydalmere Lions FC tomorrow (August 31, 2018).

After mustering a 3-1 win against APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC in the first friendly fixture in Australia, he rang in as many as five changes in the starting line-up to have a thorough look on every single available at his disposal.

On being asked whether they’re prepared for the test which lies ahead, the coach mentioned, “We had two different games recently but for me, it is about the overall development of the players. We are trying to give as much exposure to as many youngsters as possible.”

Moreover, the 55-year-old coach put more stress on the importance of the international fixtures as they carry utmost importance to the development of a player.

“The boys have worked very hard through the camp but I would have really liked more international games”, he added further, “We got better as the game (against Sydney FC) progressed and created a few opportunities as well. Overall, we wanted a tough game and we were presented with one. Now, we know more about ourselves as a team and of course, as individuals.”

India fought valiantly before going down 0-3 against Sydney FC when newly-signed Adam Le Fondre, Siem De Jong stole the show for the Sky Blues.

After locking horns with Rydalmere Lions FC at the Valentine Sports Park in Sydney tomorrow (August 31, 2018) in the final friendly fixture in Sydney, the team will fly to Dhaka to compete in the 12th edition of the SAFF Championship. Tomorrow’s match will kick-off at 12:30 PM IST.