Stephen Constantine has been able to stir a revival in Indian Football. Criticised for his boring style of football, Constantine has been able to breathe some fresh air into this Indian setup, with his attacking style of play, making the forwards work harder during the game, and playing a lot on the counter.
India are on a 7 match unbeaten streak and sit pretty at the 100th spot but Constantine feels that by the end of the Asian Cup qualifiers, India can very well breach that 94th FIFA Ranking, their highest ever in World Football.
Stephen Constantine though isn’t too worried about the rankings, as his major focus is on getting the Indian team into the Asian Cup!
“I am not very good at mathematics. But if we are 93, I would be the happiest man. That would be the historical highest. I am going to do it. I don’t know if it will be on July 6 (next FIFA ranking date) but I am going to do it. I don’t know if that (Kyrgyzstan win on June 13 in Asian Cup qualifiers) will push us that far but I hope to make history at the end of these qualifiers,” Constantine said in an interview with TOI
India beat Kyrgyzstan in a gritty match, soaking in the pressure during a sea of attacks from the visitors, and pouncing on that one little opportunity on the break. They sit top of their qualifying group and should make it to the Asian Cup this time. India next play Macau on the 5th of September.
India have played the Asian Cup only twice before, in 1984 and 2011.
“The FIFA rankings are a little bit misleading, it does not tell the whole story. Because, that depends on the number of games you play, who you play with, what the other teams do and what other teams do not do.
“It’s difficult to judge whether we are 11th best nation in Asia or we are 90 something in the world. There are a lot of very good teams who are below us because they did not play or they lost to bigger teams,” said Constantine who is here with the India Under-23 team for a 10-day national camp ahead of next month’s continental qualifiers.
“I don’t get carried away with the FIFA rankings. My immediate aim is to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup and we are in a pretty good position for that. It is good to see that we are moving upwards. As long as we are moving up, and in that sense FIFA rankings can be a guide for us,” said Constantine.
This is Constantine’s second stint with India. His first one ended in 2008 after coaching India for 3 years. His second stint started with a host of losses in the first few games of the World Cup Qualifiers but Constantine wanted to focus on the process rather than the results.