Stephen Constantine accepts AIFF's contract extension, to coach Indian national team till 2019
Stephen Constantine has accepted the contract extension that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had offered to him earlier this month, and is set to continue as the head coach of the Indian national football team.
Constantine had his first stint with the national team between 2002 and 2005, before taking up his second stint in 2015.
The Englishman has earned a lot of plaudits in his second stint at the national team dugout, as he led the side to 96th spot on the FIFA rankings; this was India’s highest rank in over two decades.
This improvement in India’s rankings came about as the Blue Tigers went on a 13-match unbeaten run, spanning over two years. This run of good results also saw India qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
Now, Constantine has accepted the extension offered to him by the AIFF, which essentially means that he will be at the helm of affairs at the national team till Asian Cup.
This means that the 55-year-old will be the longest-serving national team head coach by the time his contract comes to an end.
“I am of course immensely proud of that, and of our accomplishments in both stints,” wrote Constantine in his blog. “This time around, qualifying for the Asian Cup in 2019, winning the SAFF, and taking India to its highest ranking in modern history, 96 are all great achievements.
“I really could not have done this without the support of the AIFF, my staff and, of course, the players,” he further wrote.
Constantine’s first task after accepting his contract extension will be to prepare for India’s last 2019 AFC Qualifier against the Kyrgyz Republic on March 27. Although this is essentially a dead rubber for India, who have already secured qualification, the match holds some importance with regards to the country’s FIFA rankings.
The Englishman is set for a hectic schedule this year, with the Intercontinental Cup set to take place in June, followed by the Asian Games (U23) in August, and the SAFF Championships in September.