NEW DELHI: Stephen Constantine, a strong believer of “team for the future” is now toiling hard with the youngsters under the scorching sun in New Delhi to get the entry into the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship, which has been eluding us since its inception in 2013.
“Obviously our primary target is to qualify for the AFC U-23 Championship. There’s absolutely no second thought on that”, the Englishman sounded aptly focused while speaking to media at the Ambedkar Stadium during the practice session of the U-22 National Team.
“I have always believed in building a ‘team for the future’. Eventually, in a few years, these guys will represent India National Team. My eventual goal is to unearth some talents who’ll be ready for the Senior National Team”, he rattled at one go.
Referring to the forthcoming exposure trip to California, Stephen exuded, Our aim is to get accustomed to the conditions of Qatar as much as possible. New Delhi is hot, California will be hot too which will be helpful for the boys during the Qualifiers. Playing against those sides will get us closer to our target.”
He added more, “We’ll play three or four matches against some quality club team, even a few senior teams. Who knows, they might pick someone (referring to the current U-22 boys who are in the camp now) and we might end up with the first Indian player to play in the USA.”
The man, who turned everything into gold whatever he touched in the last year, always gives due respect to his opponents and it’s no exception this time too.
“We’re clubbed with very strong teams in the Qualifier and every match will be tough. Qatar will be the team to beat in their backyard. Syria and Turkmenistan will be testing us too.”
He reiterated that ‘intensity of the National Team is pretty high and it’s the demand at the International stage.’
“They are facing it the first time and believe me, it’s not easy to get accustomed to the setup on and off the field. They’ve got two options left with them, either get used to it or to let it go.”
Stephen is on the cusp of rewriting the Indian Football history of winning maximum International matches on a trot with the Senior National Team.
Referring to the abrupt switching to the U-22 setup within a few days of winning the gigantic clash against the Kyrgyz Republic he stated, “It’s pretty same actually. The philosophy is same, the drills, system, the ultimate lookout-everything is same. For me, there’s absolutely no difference between the Senior National Team and these bunch of youngsters.”