Not having enough preparation time a big problem, says Stephen Constantine

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Not having enough preparation time a big problem, says Stephen Constantine

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SportsCafe Desk


Indian football coach Stephen Constantine has rued the lack of camping time before the team leaves for China to play a lone international friendly encounter against Team China. Most of the Indian players have been busy with the ongoing Indian Super League representing their respective franchises.

The ongoing ISL season started on September 29 but now has a ten-day break in which the Indian squad will travel to China to play a friendly match - a game that will take place after a good twenty years. The match is scheduled for October 13 which will see the two teams meet for the first time in China.  Constantine had a press conference ahead of the team training at the JLN Stadium.

“Of course, it is a problem (of not having enough time). We don’t have much time to do what we need to do, we needed a few more days. Going forward, we need to have more time for preparation in future,” Constantine said at the conference.

“When I get the players from the clubs, they need at least two days to recover before we start a proper camp. But here we don’t have time to do that. If we had time, we could have tested their fitness levels. But now we don’t have time to test their fitness. Most of them have played at least two ISL games for their clubs, so I am hoping that they are in good fitness condition."

The problem of lack of preparation time is compounded by the fact that one of the senior players Balwant Singh has to miss out on the tour due to passport issues.

“Balwant’s passport will expire in less than six months, five months and a week to be exact. So, he has been dropped. In the past 18 months, he has done well,” the coach said.

The Indian side is currently ranked 97th while the Chinese side sit above the Indian team in the FIFA rankings with a rank of 76.

“We are fully aware that China are a big side in the region. They will be a very difficult side. They want to play possession football and they employ a high line (defenders come up). “There will be a big stadium, big crowd but we have to play under pressure. These are the matches we need to play, to find out where we are, how good we are and how far we have to go”, Constantine said.

The coach had led the Indian side to an unbeaten streak of 13 games, including 11 wins which ended with a 2-1 defeat to Kyrgyzstan in March 2018. He has regularly infused fresh legs into the Indian team with more than 40 players being handed debuts since he took over the reins of the side.

“More than 50 per cent of the current squad is Under-23 and if I feel some more young players need to be given a chance, I will do that.”

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