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AFC Asian Cup 2019: What Alberto Zaccheroni said to Stephen Constantine after India’s defeat to UAE

Avik Roy
SENIOR ANALYST
News
4.05K   //    11 Jan 2019, 17:06 IST

Indian coach Stephen Constantine
Indian coach Stephen Constantine

India hit the post couple of times, created some good chances and put up a spirited fight before going down to the United Arab Emirates by 0-2 in their second group match of Asian Cup on Thursday.

However, their aggressive brand of attacking has earned the praise of the local media along with thousands of spectators present at the stadium and watching home on Television. UAE, who are ranked 18 places ahead of India, did not expect this kind of performance from the Indian team. They congratulated Indian counterparts after the match.

India’s performance has also amazed Alberto Zaccheroni. The famous Italian coach was seen shaking hands with Stephen Constantine after the match and whispering something in his ear. It was not initially known what he said, as Constantine didn’t reveal anything in his post-match press conference.

But on Friday, the British coach took to Twitter while replying to a fan. “He said your team was very good tonight, very good,” Constantine tweeted when asked what Zaccheroni had told him.

Also in the post-match press conference, Zaccheroni said his team struggled with the pace of the Indian team. “In the second half, we changed the way we play. We were tackling more, recovering the ball quicker and were more focused. We were clinical in front of goal and got the second goal. India have a bright future ahead,” Zaccheroni said.

Despite the loss, the Indian coach was also effusive in his praise for the team in the post-match press conference. “I said to the boys you did not lose this game. You have shown what you are capable of. Even they (UAE players) were surprised and did not believe that we were this good,” Constantine said.

“We are only going to get better with this kind of games. The team has an average age of 25. The players will get only better from here. We had four clear chances to score but UAE scored with the half chance they had,” he added.

India, standing on the second position of the group with three points from two matches, will next play against Bahrain on Monday. Bahrain have one point in their kitty from two matches, having drawn against UAE and losing to Thailand.

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The last meeting between the two countries at the Asian Cup eight years ago ended on a disastrous note for India. The Blue Tigers lost the match 2-5 and ended at the bottom of the table.

But this time, the fans are hoping for a change of fortune. This Indian team are looking more confident than their predecessors and that was evident in both their previous matches. India, though only a draw would be enough for them to qualify, will be hoping for a straight win to boost their confidence ahead of the knockout rounds.

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Avik Roy
SENIOR ANALYST
A Sports Lover by passion, a Sports Writer by profession. Avik Roy is a Kolkata-based Sports Journalist who previously worked with Orissa POST and Aajkaal. Dreams of standing on the National Anthem at a FIFA World Cup match.
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