Stephen Constantine: We must be ready for Sydney FC challenge

The India U-23 team takes on A-League team Sydney FC on Tuesday (August 28).

Stephen Constantine has said India will play its natural game against Sydney FC.   -  PTI

Indian U-23 football team rode on a brace from Sumeet Passi and a breathtaking header from Sajid Dhot to garner an impressive 3-1 victory against APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC U20s during its preparatory camp in Sydney on Saturday. 

Before taking on three-time A-League champion and reigning A-League Premiers Champion Sydney FC on Tuesday (August 28), coach Stephen Constantine discussed at a length about the preparation in Sydney, the team’s performance against APIA Tigers and more.

EXCERPTS

How satisfying was the 3-1 win against APIA Tigers U20?

Constantine: It is always good when you win a game but we must keep on continuing the work that we have started. We are a young U-23 team and the win against a team comprising the U-20 boys and some of the younger pros from APIA Tigers is always encouraging.

Bibiano: The team still has room for improvement

I would like to thank Chris Tanner and Joe Mirigliani for getting us the game at such a short notice and we gained quite a bit from this game. It was a gruelling physical battle throughout and this was an experience our players don't get very often unless they play for the senior national team.

We can expect this sort of a tough contest in the SAFF Championship too.

What will be your approach against Sydney FC?

Constantine: We always try to play our natural game and we'll stick to that against Sydney FC too. We know that we are pitted against a team who are three-time A-League champions and we have to be at the top of our game to make the best of it. I am sure that Sydney FC will look forward to dictating the game but we must be ready to accept the challenge.

Sumeet Passi made a strong case last match, having come from a long injury lay-off. How do you assess his performance?

Constantine: Passi played almost 80 minutes and considering the lesser game time he got this season, he did reasonably well. It is utmost important that we keep trying to develop the forwards as we don't have in abundance.

Players akin to Daniel (Lalhlimpuia), Farukh (Choudhary), Manvir (Singh) need to be given as many opportunities as possible to shine in the future. Once Sunil (Chhetri) decides to hang his boots, we'll still have Jeje (Lalpekhlua), Balwant (Singh) but there aren't many centre-forwards at our disposal. We must keep on working with these young guys and hope more Sunils come through the pipeline.

How effective has been the training camp in Sydney so far?

Constantine: The Valentines Sports Complex owned by the New South Wales state association is a one of its kind and we're treated very well here. The facilities like the rooms, pitches and other amenities are befitting and we're extremely happy with what we got.

We're learning to adapt to the environment away from our home and focusing on nothing but our game, the sole reason why we are here. The reason behind choosing the young guns is providing them with some much-needed international exposure from this camp in Australia as well as the upcoming SAFF Championship which will help them going forward.

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