Harpal Singh Bedi / New Delhi
India’s Chief football coach Stephen Constantine on Wednesday opined that India needs to play more international friendly matches with stronger teams in pre preparation for the AFC Asian Cup to be held in UAE in January next year.
Talking to media persons in New Delhi on the eve of team’s departure for Amman to play a friendly match against Jordon there on 17 November, the coach was of the view that the contest will provide his team a chance to experiment tactics and gain valuable experience.
The match against Jordan would prove to be extremely beneficial for the Indian National Team. “We want to do well in our preparation for the AFC Asian Cup and the clash against Jordan will aid us in that as Jordan are a good side and they have a number of good players in their ranks”, Constantine said.
“We have a plan that we would like to implement during the game and we have watched the teams a lot. We had watched China three to four times and we are prepared for the challenges that come our way”, he added.
Further elaborating, the coach said “We need to play teams like Jordan leading up to the AFC Asian Cup where we would be under pressure. Even the game against China was the same where if you commit a mistake around the 18 yard box, you can easily concede. However, both sides are good technical sides and both will present different challenges”
“Our preparation to the AFC Asian Cup will also include a match against Oman and another friendly in December which is yet to be fixed” he said
India have been draw in Group A of the AFC Asian Cup alongside hosts UAE, Thailand and Bahrain and face Thailand in their opening match on January 06.
The Indian squad will leave for Jordan tomorrow, after a three-day camp in the capital where 30 players were called by the coach including 18 year old FIFA U-17 World Cupper Komal Thatal.
However, the team will be without the presence of Sunil Chhetri who has been ruled out of the tie courtesy of an ankle injury.
“Sunil missing for the clash against Jordan is a big blow for us. He is a great player and has been fantastic for us. He is one of those players that is irreplaceable but somebody has to take his place for the match against Jordan”
“However it is a great opportunity for young players to step up and although you cannot find a player of his calibre and class we need to see if the young player step up and take this opportunity”
“We need to find somebody who will be there when we don’t have Sunil Chhetri so that there is no void left in the team”, Stephen informed.
“We deserved to be in the AFC Asian Cup and we are in the best position that India has been in, in some time. We will travel to Abu Dhabi with 28 players before the tournament starts and then we will drop 5 players”, the English coach stated.
“I am trying to cover all the bases and I don’t want my best players to remain injured and one of them right now is Sunil Chhetri”
Complementing the Indian backline, Stephen said, “We would be under pressure in the AFC Asian Cup and our backline has been pretty stable. We want to put out the best team in the AFC Asian Cup to win taking in consideration the factors of the other teams and their quality”
This will be the first time ever in their football history that, India will face Jordan. The friendly comes on the back of a goalless draw against powerhouses China in October 8 where India put up a superb performance to hold Marcelo Lippi’s men in a draw..