India coach Constantine wary of Sri Lanka

Indian coach Stephen Constantine exuded a level of caution on the eve of host's opening match against Sri Lanka in the SAFF Suzuki Cup on Thursday.

"I had to make a choice either continue with tried and tested players who are around 30 or to rebuild the squad and I opted for the second despite being aware that I won’t deliver you immediate results,” said India's coach Constantine.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR (file Photo)

Indian coach Stephen Constantine exuded a level of caution on the eve of host's opening match against Sri Lanka in the SAFF Suzuki Cup on Thursday. The Sri Lankan's last minute winner against Nepal has made the Englishman wary of his opponent's strength.

“They play a defensive formation and will hit us on the counter attacks. They have some decent players and work extremely hard. There are no easy games for us — in fact, against anybody. I expect Sri Lanka to give everything they have. We have to be patient and see what happens,” said Constantine while speaking to the press after team’s practice at the Greenfield stadium on Thursday.

Injuries to certain key players have delayed Constantine from naming his final squad. “We lost Sandesh Jinghan, Lobo and Seitysen Singh. Anas pulled a hamstring and we had to release him too. Besides there are number of guys whom we need to be careful with,’’ he said.

“I could have easily played Jhinghan and Lobo. They could have played in this tournament and their presence would have certainly strengthened my squad. But if I played them here they would have missed the next six months,’’ said Constantine.

Constatine stressed that he was building the team for the future and was keen to blood a few youngsters in this tournament. Zuala from Mizoram, who is just 18-years-old is the baby of the team. Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das, Rowlin Borges, Pronay Halder, Holicharn Nazary, Gurpreet Singh, Kaushik Sarkar and Sumit Passi are all below 23.

“When I took, I had to make a choice either continue with tried and tested players who are around 30 or to rebuild the squad and I opted for the second despite being aware that I won’t deliver you immediate results,” he quipped.

Sunil Chhetri and Eugeneson Lyngdoh were impressed with the youngsters in the Indian squad and it will be test of character for some of them as they make their debut against Sri Lanka on the Christmas Day.