The Indian national football team coach Stephen Constantine believes that his team’s brilliant performance right from the qualifying rounds to the two games in the group stages of the AFC Asian Cup is all thanks to the rise in standards of Indian football in the past few years.
India stunned Thailand 4-1 in their opening match last weekend which meant that they won their first game at the Asian Cup in over 50 years. Now, despite losing out to UAE in their second group game, our national team’s coach believes that the kind of support the Indian football team has received in the past few years, it looks like the beautiful game has knocked cricket off it’s perch in India.
Speaking to the Times of India ahead of India’s final group clash against Bahrain, Constantine expressed his happiness as he said, “After qualifying and two outstanding performances we have done that and more.”
He continued, “Indians do love their cricket but you really are seeing a metamorphosis in football and that is really something to be proud of. To get to the knockout stages would be massive. But whatever happens, we’ve already overachieved.”
Comparing football with cricket and revealing his rationale behind why the Indian football team is not a topic much written about, Constantine said, “Football is as popular in India in my opinion – it’s just not written about as much. Of course when the cricket team is doing well and the football isn’t, there is only going to be one winner.”
Concluding his thoughts by claiming that times are changing, Constantine stated, “But that has all changed. The fact that we are capable of playing the bigger teams and to compete, was not the case when I arrived. We are a solid unit, we work very hard on all aspects of the game and on our day, can hurt most teams.”