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Asian Cup 2019: Stephen Constantine steps down as head coach of Indian national football team

SENIOR ANALYST
News
1.51K   //    15 Jan 2019, 00:45 IST

Stephen Constantine
Stephen Constantine

Stephen Constantine stepped down as the Indian national football team head coach after the Blue Tigers crashed out of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 with a 1-0 defeat to Bahrain.

Constantine announced his resignation at the post-match press conference. He was applauded by the reporters at the end of the PC.

"I am glad you raised that point (about my future). Stephen Constantine is stepping down.

"I have been here for 4 years. My objective from day one was to qualify for the Asian Cup. I have done that and broken a few records with the national team in the progress. I am proud of players for everything they have given.

"I have to thank the AIFF (All India Football Federation), in particular Kushal Das, Praful Patel and Subrata Dutta. The support they have given me in the last 4 years has been huge.

"My cycle is finished with India. I did what I was asked to do and more. It's time to move on from India.

"I was going to announce that at the end of the press conference."

Under Constantine, India climbed up from a lowly FIFA ranking of 173 and were placed 97th at the beginning of the Asian Cup. They qualified for the tournament itself after a gap of eight years and were close to making the knockouts.

India surprised all by thrashing Thailand 4-1 in their Asian Cup Group A opener. However, the team went on to lose 2-0 to hosts UAE despite creating more number of chances. Heading into the final group game requiring just a draw, India conceded a penalty goal in the first minute of added time to lose 1-0.

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India finished fourth in Group A with 3 points in 3 games. Bahrain were third with 4. Thailand also have 4 but are placed second because of their better head-to-head record against Bahrain. UAE topped the group with 5 points.


"No, I don't think it's the saddest day of my career," Constantine said. "Not a great day for sure. It's my wife's birthday so she's going to be upset.

"Sometimes you don't get what you deserve in football than in real life. I am sad to be leaving the players and the boys. They have been fantastic, even the guys who didn't make the final squad.

"But it's time to move on. I haven't lived in my house (back in the UK) for 6 years. My daughters - 3 of them - (I see them) every three months or 4.

"I leave India better placed than when I took charge in 2015."

Constantine was serving his second stint as the India coach, having been at the helm between 2002 and 2005. Drawing comparisons with the two stints, Constantine said: "The last time I was in India was between 2002 and 2005," Constantine said. "And I left the team and the country in a better place than it was in 2002. Ten years later, between 2015-19, they are in a much better place than 2005.

"We have a crop of young players who I think are the future. They need to qualify for these tournaments on a regular basis if they want to be successful. They have the players and the talent pool to do that. I wish them nothing but the best."

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SENIOR ANALYST
Aravind Suchindran is a sports reporter from Bangalore, who has previously worked with the Times Of India and Bangalore Mirror. When not writing, he likes to read between the lines. When bored of reading between the lines, he likes to play football and explore the world.
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