Intercontinental Cup important for India’s development, says Constantine

National coach Stephen Constantine has labelled the upcoming Intercontinental Cup as essential for the Indian team's growth and development.

Stephen Constantine became the national coach in 2015 and it was under his tutelage that the Indian side broke into the top-100 of the FIFA rankings in 2017 for the first time in 21 years.   -  H. Vibu

Indian football team head coach Stephen Constantine described next month’s four-nation Intercontinental Cup as an important tournament for the country’s progression and development in the game.

“It (the Intercontinental Cup) is a very important tournament for our progression and development. It is good that New Zealand are coming, they have a strong team. Chinese Taipei have improved in the last four-five months. And Kenyans will be strong and physical and any team from Africa will be challenge for us,” said Constantine.

READ: Mumbai Football Arena to host Intercontinental Cup

“Contrary to popular belief we try to get friendly games with bigger teams and we learn more from playing against better teams,” he added.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) will be hosting the Intercontinental Cup at the Mumbai Football Arena here with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and Kenya in the fray apart from India.

The coach also indicated that India could be playing two teams from the Gulf region after this tournament, but said nothing was confirmed. “We have five-six letters sent to the teams (that) we want to come. So (in) October, we will try to have a home game, in November we will play outside the country and then obviously we have the camp, and then we will be out of country,” he said.

“Ideally, we will be in the Gulf region for obvious reasons, we will try to play one or two Gulf region teams. Nothing is 100 per cent confirmed,” the coach informed.

Want to develop players

India will feature in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup to be held in United Arab Emirates in January and Constantine said his only agenda was to ensure that the team puts up a good show.

“In two and half years I am here, we have given 37 international debuts, we have won SAAF Championships and half of the squad is U-23, so you have a team here for next six years,” he said.

ALSO READ: Kenya replaces South Africa in four-nation Intercontinental Cup

“I build teams. I did 10 years ago. I did in Rwanda, I did it in Sudan and I am doing it here again. I think we have to give young players the opportunity, but at right time, right moment, right game, and right opponent. We want to develop the players,” he stressed.

He revealed that he did not pick some players because they were not in his scheme of things in the national team. “I don’t care what anybody says, my only agenda is to succeed for India,” said the Englishman.