AFC ASIAN CUP: Football is not played on paper: Constantine

Abu Dhabi, January 9, 2019: Football is ‘played on the pitch and not on paper’ asserted India coach Stephen Constantine ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup game against UAE on Thursday.

“We know all the three games are going to be very tough. There’ll be no easy game at this level. But we’ll go toe-to-toe with them. A game is not played on paper, but on the pitch. UAE are the hosts and will be under pressure. It’s understandable they will go for all three points,” said Constantine.

UAE (ranked 79th in the FIFA rankings) has won eight of 13 games against India. The Blue Tigers on the other hand have won thrice against the Gulf nation.

The two teams last played at the Ambedkar Stadium (New Delhi) in 2o11. The game had ended in a 2-2 draw with Jeje Lalpekhlua scoring for India.

“Jeje is a very good player. But unfortunately, he did not have much game time recently. You put Jeje in the position and he will score for you. I was so happy that he scored the goal against Thailand. He deserves to get the goal, especially at this level,” said Constantine about Lalpekhlua.

When asked about UAE’s style of play he said: “They are a physical, as well as a skillful side. I am not worried about our fitness. We have to play our best game to get the result.”

Sunil Chhetri, who surpassed Lionel Messi as the highest international goal scorer among active players, also earned plaudits from the coach.

“Sunil has always given everything whenever he has played for the National Team. I can’t complain about this. He is there to do his job and his job is to score goals. He has a phenomenal scoring record and we’re better with him in the team,” said Constantine.

“Against Thailand, we gave the ball away too many times which put the opposition in an advantageous position. We have to look after the ball better. I feel we started a bit nervous. Some young boys were too eager to press. We can’t repeat it against UAE,” he added.

Constantine played Ashique Kuruniyan up front alongside Chhetri in the game against Thailand…and the move paid off!

When asked as to whether an encore can happen against UAE the coach simply said: “You have to wait and see.”

India play UAE at the Sheikh Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, on Thursday (January 10). The game will be telecast live on Star Sports 2, 3. It will also be streamed live on Hotstar at 9.30 pm (IST). 

AIFF MEDIA

Also Read: AFC ASIAN CUP: It is an honor to play for India: Chettri

AFC ASIAN CUP: India still have work to do: Constantine

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