Michael Chopra hits back at Constantine

There have been reports that the All India Football Federation may not be too keen to extend India coach Stephen Constantine’s contract that gets over in February, a month before the Asian Cup qualifiers begin.

Kerala Blasters faces NorthEast United FC in its first match in Guwahati on October 1.   -  H. Vibhu

National football coach Stephen Constantine may have ruled Michael Chopra out from representing India but the British PIO today said he’s not lost hope and was awaiting the 53-year-old’s exit.

Hitting out at the India coach, the Kerala Blasters forward said, “Stephen Constantine can say whatever he wants. Personally, it’s not a problem for me. Well has he achieved anything in the game as a player? No.”

There have been reports that the All India Football Federation may not be too keen to extend Constantine’s contract that gets over in February, a month before the Asian Cup qualifiers begin.

“As a manager what has he achieved, he has been India manager and was in Rwanda and other countries. I’ve heard reports about other managers taking over, so let’s wait and see what happens,” the 32-year-old said, reacting to the India coach’s comments that he had past his prime.

After a successful pre-season training camp in Thailand, Kerala Blasters has shifted its base to Mohun Bagan's grounds in Kolkata ahead of the third Indian Super League.

The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned side was originally slated to train at its home in Kochi but the team management decided to train here as the move also makes sense since it faces NorthEast United FC in its first match in Guwahati on October 1.

“We went to Thailand and to travel all the way back to the Northeast, it really makes sense to do your pre-season training here in Kolkata rather than going to Kerala. It will shorten the travel time and distance. We flew in yesterday. This is our first day training,” Chopra said.

Md. Rafique, who joined the training today despite injury worries, did not train with the team today while the training was conducted by head coach Steve Coppell.

“He should be fit. We are working on the fitness. Obviously there’s a lot to work on. That applies to all the teams. When a new manager takes over, there will be new ideas and philosophy,” Chopra said.