Significance of Macau qualifier is huge, says Constantine
Mumbai, Oct 1 (PTI) National football team coach Stephen Constantine today termed India's upcoming Asian Cup qualifier against Macau as one of the most significant encounters in country's footballing history.
India, who are on top of their group in Asian Cup qualifier, need to beat Macau on October 11 home game, which will ensure their qualification for the tournament proper for the first time after 2011. A win means that result of the last two games will be inconsequential.
"We have three more games, but the most important game is one against Macau on October 11. This will be one of the most significant in our history. If we manage to win this game, we qualify for the Asian Cup, which would be a tremendous achievement for Indian Football," Constantine told reporters here on sidelines of the team's training.
The last time India played Asian Cup under Irish coach Bob Houghton, they ran into Australia, South Korea and Bahrain at the group league stage.
Terming the game as a big one, the coach said that the players know the importance of it.
"The boys know the importance of the game, they know what this could mean for them, Indian football and everybody connected with Indian football. It is not just a big game and hopefully we will get the three points," he explained.
"It is in our hands and feet. We know the type of football Macau will try and play. Pretty much as they parked the bus, we will have to be patient, continue to do the hard- work and try to find something to unlock them.
Constantine feels that they have to close in the qualification in the next match without thinking that there would be two more matches at their disposal after that.
"We have to be focussed and we can't afford to think what happens after that. We have this game coming up and we need to think, how we can win it," the coach said.
Constantine informed that there are no fitness worries but even in case of extreme situation, he has ready replacements for each and every position.
"We now have quite a strong core, one guy goes out due to injury, another can come in, and there is not too much loss in quality. This was beginning to try and build a team and build quality, so we are in a position now which is the best position we have been from sometime," said the Anglo-Cypriot coach.
On the upcoming U17 FIFA World Cup, the coach feels that the hosts are in a tough group.
"The thing with the U17 World Cup, one team can beat the other. I want India to do well and qualify from the Group at least, that will be a massive achievement, but they are in a difficult group. I had one week with them, about seven weeks ago and since then, there have been changes," he signed off