Constantine: Santosh Trophy has relevance

"There are many tournaments in India and our scouts have unearthed talents from many of them. I picked up Zula (Lallialzuala Chhangte) from a small tournament. I had my eyes on this Santosh Trophy and today some players have impressed me," said the Indian team coach.

Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine.   -  S. Mahnisa

Santosh Trophy football championship may have lost its lustre, especially after the birth of I-league and Indian Super League (ISL), but Indian football coach Stephen Constantine believes that the National championship still has its relevance and value.

The coach, who was here to witness the final of the Santosh Trophy between Services and Maharashtra at the Railway stadium, said it is was not easy to ignore Championship, which has unearthed new talents in the past. “There are many tournaments in India and our scouts have unearthed talents from many of them. I picked up Zula (Lallialzuala Chhangte) from a small tournament. I had my eyes on this Santosh Trophy and today some players have impressed me,” he said.

The Englishman was also in favour of Santosh Trophy being played as an under-21 tournament in future but said it was his personal opinion. “Having Santosh Trophy as an under-21 tournament will be an ideal way to prepare the team for the Olympics which is an under-23 tournament,” said the coach.

The coach was also in favour of a single league but said that the matter was not in his hands and it is up to the stake holders to decide on what was good for Indian football. “All over the world there is only one league and I feel that should be followed in India as well. At least they have started talks in that direction and hopefully things will fall in place soon,” he said.

Arjun Tudu, who scored two goals in the final, came in for praise from Stephen Constantine. “He has tremendous pace and is a good striker. I had a close look at him at the Indian camp for the SAFF Cup but he still has some way to go to get into the Indian team. He will be a better player if he plays in the I-league. Personally if I was an I-league coach I would have picked him in my team,” said the coach.

Regarding India’s World Cup qualifiers, the coach said Indian team’s preparations will begin shortly and refused to predict the outcome of the matches.