AFC ASIAN CUP — Can’t wait for the opener against Thailand: Constantine

Indian Team Coach Stephen Constantine

ABU DHABI, 5th January, 2019: A day prior to India’s 2019 AFC Asian Cup opener against Thailand, head coach Stephen Constantine admitted that he ‘can’t wait for the match to begin.’

“The players are really looking forward to the opening match, and so am I. We can’t wait for the game to kick-off. It’s time for the show,” said Constantine. “We have a really young team. I wish they perform to their abilities. I’m sure we’ll do fine,” he added.

This is India’s fourth ever appearance in the AFC Asian Cup, the last being in the 2011 edition in Doha. It may be noted that India had finished second in the 1964 edition. Thailand on the other hand finished third in the 1972 edition. Post that the Thai’s haven’t got out of the group stages of the tournament in five attempts.

Also, Oman, who were held to a goalless draw by India recently, got the better of Thailand three days back in a closed doors game in Abu Dhabi.

When queried as to whether Oman’s win over Thailand would give India a ‘psychological edge’ this is what Constantine had to say: “They are different teams with a different set of players. Oman were trying out different players, and so were Thailand.”

“They (Thailand) are a very good side and they are not to be underestimated at all. We’re in no position to underestimate anybody. We have to take one game at a time. We’ll give everything we have as we have continued to do in the last four years. We’ll obviously do our best to get the result that we need,” he added.

India are expected to have a lot of support from their travelling fans known as the ‘Blue Pilgrims’.

“We need the support of our Indian Friends from Abu Dhabi and all over the UAE,” said Constantine.

“It’s not every day you go and see the Indian National Team play in the Asian Cup, and now it’s at your doorstep. This is a huge event as well as a huge opportunity for the Indians to see their National Team play at the highest stage in the continent. Personally, it’s a proud moment for me to lead India to the Asian Cup. It has been a long difficult road which took more than three years to get here. AIFF believed in me and allowed me to continue,” he added.

“The 1-0 win against the Kyrgyz Republic at home was something special. Apart from that, beating Myanmar in Myanmar after 64 years was a great result for us. It was the opening game of the final qualifying round. The result gave us the confidence to go forward,” concluded Constantine.

It may be noted that India traversed the longest path to qualify for the tournament. They played 18 matches before cementing their berth in the group stages.

India’s opening game against Thailand would begin at 7 pm (IST) at the Al Nahyan Stadium on January 6, 2019. It would be telecast live on Star Sports 3 and also streamed live on Hotstar.


Also Read: AFC ASIAN CUP: Blue Tigers lauded by India football legend

Also Read: AFC ASIAN CUP: Blue Tigers do their bit for these special champions!

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