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Stephen Constantine believes Udanta Singh and Nishu Kumar's AFC Commitments will prove beneficial for Indian football

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Stephen Constantine believes Udanta Singh and Nishu Kumar's AFC Commitments will prove beneficial for Indian football

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SportsCafe Desk


India's head coach Stephen Constantine believes Udanta Singh and Nishu Kumar playing in the AFC Cup will be a good thing for Indian football. Due to their AFC commitments, Udanta Singh and Nishu Kumar have not been released for the preparations of 2018 SAFF Championship with a national camp.

For the preparation of the 2018 SAFF Championship, Stephen Constantine called up 34 players in total which included Udanta Singh and Nishu Kumar. However, the duo who is contracted with Bengaluru FChave not been released by the club because of their prior AFC Commitments. The preparation starts in New Delhi from Saturday onwards, through a national camp. With the news making headlines last week, Constantine has come out and defended the decision by stating that Bengaluru will be the face of India in AFC Cup and involvement of these two players in the continental event will prove beneficial for Indian football.

“We are preparing now for the SAFF Championship now. It is also sort of a preparation for the Asian Cup as well. So to let those two players play in the AFC Cup is good for Indian football. They are representing India there and I am a hundred per cent behind them. If any other clubs will be there in such competition I will obviously support them too,” Constantine said.

“Firstly I would like to thank all the Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League clubs for releasing their players for the camp. Only two boys from Bengaluru FC (Nishu Kumar and Udanta Singh) were not released. The way I see it, Bengaluru are representing India in the AFC Cup. I think it’s important that our clubs participate in the AFC Cup and these kinds of tournaments."

Indian football has been on the rise for a while with the National team breaking back into the top 100 teams in the FIFA rankings. But after the team had won the Intercontinenal Cup, they were dealt with a big blow as the IOA decided not to send the team to the Asian Games. The head coach believes as the games are conducted in every four years, it would have been a great opportunity for the players.

“We are not the team which played four or eight years ago. I think it did us harm because I felt we had a good chance of making it out of the groups and the players would also get to play more big games. It was a very poor decision," Constantine said.

He has mentioned that the list of players for the SAFF Championship includes every name in Under-23, except for Sumeet Passi. The head coach has also listed the events for the senior team in near future.

“We are playing against China in October as confirmed by the AIFF (All India Football Federation). We have Oman confirmed on December 27th. We will also play a match in November. I am not naming them as it is not confirmed and there will be another game in December before the first game in the Asian Cup," he mentioned.

Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Rahim Ali and Rahul Kannoly Praveen, the India Arrows side that represented the country in the FIFA U-17 World Cup last year are also included in the national camp. Constantine was asked to comment on goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem’s condition, the first choice keeper in the tournament in India's U-17. He was said to be lacking match practice at a trial this year at Scotland-based Motherwell FC, until he was snapped up by Kerala Blasters.

“This has nothing to do with me and who is looking after the boy. There was a lot of hype around the U-17 team. They did not win any games at U-17 World Cup. I am not quite sure what the hype was about. India did okay but I never understood why we were making a big deal out of that performance,” Constantine said"They didn’t qualify for the World Cup, they hosted it. Too much was made out of it. They played a World Cup as the host nation. They lost all three games. Then they played in the I-League and came last,” he added.

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