Asian Cup 2019: Focused on Tournament, not on Sacking Coach Stephen Constantine, says AIFF
The All India Football Federation has condemned media reports which had claimed that the governing body will terminate head coach Stephen Constantine's contract immediately after the Asian Cup 2019.
A website claimed that the AIFF "was in no mood" to extend Constantine's contract regardless of India's performance at the Asian Cup.
The federation has said the Indian national football team is focused on performing well in the tournament, which kicks off on January 5, 2019, and the uncertain future of Constantine is only "silly speculation".
In a strongly-worded statement, the AIFF said:
"All India Football Federation condemned all the speculations which are going around about parting ways with National Team Coach Stephen Constantine after January 2019."
Kushal Das, the general secretary of the AIFF, felt it's sad that the media is giving importance to such speculation before the big tournament is coming up.
"It's completely baseless and utter rubbish. We're completely focused on AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 and the team has been performing excellently under Stephen Constantine having risen to 97 from 173 in the FIFA ranking within less than 4 years.
"It is sad that media is indulging in baseless and silly speculation before such an important tournament of the national team," Das said.
Das added, "We all are focused on the massive tournament right now and we'll only sit together to discuss this once his contract ends on 31st January 2019."
The AIFF feels Constantine has delivered on the objectives they have set and there's no reason for the association to sack him yet.
The Times of India had reported that captain Sunil Chhetri was unhappy with Constantine at the helm and had sought the removal of the Brit back in 2017, saying he was not tactically skilled to coach India at the Asian Cup. The report said Chhetri wanted Constantine to be replaced by former Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca, who led the Blues to the final of the AFC Cup in 2016.
The AIFF was adamant on its stand that Constantine would continue until the end of the Asian Cup. Right now, the body has reiterated the same and said the contract would come up for discussion only after January.
"Meanwhile, back in 2015, when the Brit took the charge of the Blue Tigers, they were ranked 173 in the FIFA rankings. Since then, they have experienced a meteoric rise to in the ladder to surge up to 97 in the latest-released FIFA rankings," the AIFF added.