Effective scouting system important for Indian football, says head coach Stephen Constantine
New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) Newly-appointed Indian football team chief coach Stephen Constantine Tuesday stressed the importance of a strong talent scouting system.
In his first official media interaction since taking over the job of the Indian team, ranked 171st by FIFA, Constantine said that he will give equal opportunities to all players to stake their place to represent the country.
"I am very excited to be here in India. There is a lot of work left but I promise that I am up for it. I will do everything I can to improve."
"My mission is to set up a successful scouting network. I want to touch everything from the State Leagues to the national level tournaments to the Universities. I am sure that there are hundreds of players who are capable of playing for India. We need to widen the net. No country can progress in football without a proper grassroots and youth development programme."
Constantine was the coach of the Rwanda national team before taking up this post. The Englishman guided the Africans to their highest world ranking of 68 in last month's FIFA list. He said he will ask a scouting expert from England to brief the Indian selectors at various levels on the criteria to select a player.
The Englishman's first assignment for India is against Nepal on March 12 and 17 In Guwahati and Kathmandu respectively in the World Cup qualifiers preliminary joint qualification Round 1.
"We need to work hard to win those two games. I promise that we will give everything on the field. Off course the matches would be difficult as Nepal have a tough mentality. We work hard as it increases our chances of success."
Referring to a question, the coach quipped: "I haven't yet decided on my captain. I will work with my boys and then decide on my captain."
The Indian National Team assembles for a preparatory Camp in Guwahati on March 4. He also pointed out that things have bettered for India in terms of popularity, especially after the inaugural edition of the Hero Indian Super League.
"The ISL has proved that Indians love football as much as they love their cricket. We need to cash in on that. It's not every day that you get to train with the likes of Mikael Silvestre and others. Training with such Players would obviously help you to improve."
Speaking on his reunion with his former captain Shanmugam Venkatesh as the assistant coach of the national team, Constantine said: "Venky was with me right from the start and he knows what I am like, the manner I want to play and what I want. I think we need to give our young coaches a chance. He is somebody who is willing to learn and is energetic. Let's give him a shot and see what happens."
The 52-year-old also proposed a new idea of multi-national passports that could see players of Indian origin play for the national team.
"I want Players who love their country. There are a lot of players who are playing in foreign leagues at the moment. I would suggest for a multi-national passport for such players. It's just an idea, but I would like if it can be made possible because everybody else is doing it."