Stephen Constantine hails ‘outstanding’ India

The head coach is elated at India’s performance in its drawn contest against China.

Stephen Constantine reacts during the international friendly between China and India in Suzhou, China on Saturday.   -  AFP

India’s coach Stephen Constantine praised his side’s performance in a friendly against China on Saturday. The teams, playing each other after 21 years, remained goalless for the entire length of the contest.

Speaking after the match, Constantine called India’s performance “outstanding.” He said, “We have shown in the last four years that we are a very difficult team to beat. We may not have the quality which some of the other teams in Asia have. But I stand for my team physically and competitively against any team in Asia. The boys were outstanding [on Saturday].”

Despite the lack of goals, Constantine called the contest “exciting.” He said, “It was a very exciting match. Both teams tried to score. Of course, China had more possession and opportunities and we had expected this.”

He added: “We came here to give a good performance and the main thing for us was to get used to the standard of football which we would face in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.”

‘Outstanding talent’

He reserved a word of praise for goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and defender Sandesh Jhingan.

“I feel Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu) is an outstanding talent. He was three years in Norway and definitely played his role today in keeping a clean sheet for us,” Constantine said.

On Sandesh, he said, “Sandesh Jhingan is a fighter. He puts his body on the line and gave everything on the pitch as all the other boys to too. Playing for India is the best possible situation and we appreciate that,” the coach quipped.

Constantine was elated with the good exposure gained by some U-23 players who played the match. “Congratulations to all the players. Five of them who ended the game are U-23 players and two who started were U-23 players as well. That’s my policy — to develop young players and give them more opportunities,” he said.