Our work starts after the U-17 world Cup closes, says Constantine

Indo Asian News Service

Kolkata, April 4 (IANS) India football team coach Stephen Constantine on Tuesday urged the authorities to hold on to the infrastructure which FIFA is providing for the U-17 World Cup to be hosted by the country for the first time this year, adding that the work starts after the youth showpiece is over.

"We have an U-17 World Cup and that's the first time in our history it is going to take place. It's a huge honour for us and we should make the most of that," Constantine told reporters at a press briefing, after a two-day scouting workshop for coaches conducted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and organised by youth services & sports, government of West Bengal.

"Because once the FIFA World Cup closes, we are on our own. And we need to make that we maintain the facilities and that the pitch is ok. So two-three years later we don't comeback looking for fields.

"It's very important that we take advantage of what FIFA is providing in terms of structure but we have to maintain them ourselves once they are gone. The ISL has made us universal. It has shown that Indians not only play football but we are not bad either. We are good players. I think however things pan out in the future we know that we are centre-stage," Constantine, who has previously been critical of the Indian Super League, said.

When asked about the merger of the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League, the former Rwanda coach was tongue in cheek.

"I think that's above my payscale," Constantine, who helped India beat Cambodia in a FIFA international friendly and then Myanmar in the Asian Cup qualifier, said

"What I am interested is there are games with Indian players so that I can select them for the national team. I have said quite a bit in the past about a lot of things and we don't need to be talking about that today," he added.

India are tipped to be 101 in FIFA rankings on April 6. They will be the second best movers in April's FIFA ranking with a jump of 31 places behind Macedonia who will take a 33-rung leap.

Constantine commented that had Bolivia not beaten Lionel Messi-less Argentina 2-0, India would have been at the 97th spot.

"I would be a little happier if Bolivia didn't beat Argentina because then we would have been 97. Having said that, am I happy? Yes. Can we do better? Absolutely," he said.

Constantine said that the team has competition for every place now and no one is assure of a start.

"Now in the senior national team, they are killing themselves. We have 3-4 players who can play left-back, we got 4-5 people who could play right back no is guaranteed. So and this is the competition we want. The harder you work the more chances you get. And there is no complacency in the national team at the moment, and I am very proud of the boys," the coach said

"I believe we have the nucleus of the squad, our average age is 24. I believe we have a team that will take us hopefully to the Asian Cup and beyond. And for the next four-five years," he added.

On the workshop, which saw participation of 30 coaches from Bengal, Constantine said two or three scouts from here will be picked to watch Santosh Trophy, university and school games.

"This is the first actual workshop on scouting. We won't use these people to scout in the ISL and I-League. They will scout in the Santosh Trophy, universities, schools, anywhere football is being played in India it should be scouted. We need to have a continuous flow of players coming through the system," Constantine said.

"In order to do that, we need to educate and teach the scouts what are they looking for. As you know, in most teams there is a spine. It starts with the goalkeeper and ends with the striker. Down the middle of that spine, you need some attributes. Down the sides, you need different attributes.

"The question is what are we looking for, where are we looking and how are we looking. We will hopefully take one, two or three of them that will start scouting on a regular basis, not only for Bengal but for the national team," he added.

--IANS

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