Intercontinental Cup 2018: Stephen Constantine reveals the road-map to AFC Asian Cup, defends his selection policy
Stephen Constantine revealed the roadmap to the upcoming 2019 AFC Asian Cup and confirmed the rumours of playing Syria and Saudi Arabia as a part of the preparation. He also opened up on his selection policy and indicated that "work rate" is the key criterion to get into the national fold.
While the senior team will be gearing up for the AFC Asian Cup in 2019, Stephen Constantine's next project will be the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games which will take place in August where the U23 side along with three senior players will take part.
After the Asian Games, the Indian National team will be travelling to Bangladesh for the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship in September. The Indian gaffer confirmed the fragmented rumours that the senior team has been lined up for a couple of games against Asian heavyweights-Saudi Arabia and Syria in the last part of the year.
"There will definitely be two games sometime in December, before the Asian Cup. We're close to a game with Saudi Arabia in November. I'm happy that the Olympic committee is allowing us for the Asian Games in August," said Constantine at the post-match press conference.
The gaffer also added that the preparatory camp for UAE will be starting on 10th December.
"We need these games, and the players will also be better at their clubs. Obviously, we'd like to get players on December 10, as that will help them get used to the situation," the India coach added.
India, who are currently placed 97th in the FIFA Rankings, will be appearing in the continental extravaganza for the fourth time, having drawn into a group that consists of the hosts UAE, Thailand and Bahrain.
Constantine was full of praises for the organisers of MDFA led by Aditya Thackeray."Having a camp in Mumbai has been tremendous. Aditya Thackeray is a huge supporter. I like coming here. It's important that we have a right atmosphere to prepare," he clarified.
While the national team head coach has been questioned a million times over, on his player selection, Constantine prior to the final has had opened up on his much-debated selection policy and indicated that "work rate" is the key criterion to get into the national fold. He also stressed on the need of players, who have the ability to play comfortably in more than one positions.
"I don’t do anything by accident. I can’t afford to. I know many a time when there have been debates over the players I have selected or dropped, but the most important thing for us is the work rate”. He took Anirudh Thapa’s example, who has given a fresh lease to the Indian midfield-“(Anirudh) Thapa is a prime example. He has been outstanding in his work rate. That’s the kind of players that we need in this Indian national team".
Continuing on his selection, Constantine also gave a hint on the requirements needed, to make the cut for the AFC Asian Cup squad. He indicated that players feeling comfortable in more than one positions will have an upper hand in the selection process.
"There are 23 players that we can take. There are going to be three goalkeepers. So then you need players who can play in more than one position. That allows you to have more depth in certain positions," stated the 55-year-old head coach.
"So how many defenders will we take in? Probably eight! How many midfield players? Maybe six of them. So if you have some utility players, for example, (Anirudh)Thapa, then it becomes easier. He can play on the wide right. So I don’t have a problem. Even if I make him play in the middle, I don’t have a problem. So in the game, if we need to make a change, knowing that the players could play one or more different positions and are comfortable on the ball, then it gives me a great confidence," he said.