Stephen Constantine

Margao, Nov 13 (IANS) Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine has stressed on the importance of continuing the momentum ahead of their home match against Myanmar in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifier UAE 2019 at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday.

“This match is the first step to Asian Cup’s preparation which is precisely 14 months away,” he said at the official pre-match press conference here on Monday.

“The match allows us the opportunity to test the depth of our squad. Obviously, we are looking forward to,” the Englishman said.

Constantine showed huge respect for the visitors and said that the match can be “anyone’s game.”

“Myanmar are a very disciplined side. The coach is there for eight long years and he follows a similar system. We had a torrid time in Myanmar.”

Skipper Sunil Chhetri, who made the difference in the added time in the first leg having ended a 64-year prolonged wait to register a win in Myanmar, reiterated the fact as well.

“I admit that they had a lot of ball possession. They kept us under tremendous pressure throughout. But at the end of the day, we took all three points. I will any day take three points at the end, no matter who has more ball possession,” Chhetri said.

Referring to the Myanmar coach’s comments that he’s ready to provide Chhetri with a Myanmar passport, Chhetri quipped: “Let’s not take away the credit from our defenders. As I remember we defended for most of the time and they carried out the job with utmost precision. If he hands me a Myanmar passport, it is to be given to the defenders, Jeje, Udanta too.”

Coach Constantine also rained praise on the players’ “phenomenal work rate” which churned out a win in Myanmar.

“The work rate was phenomenal. We have continued our hard work for last two years and these are the results. Everyone knows that we are a hard-working unit and we will continue to do so.”

Referring to Chhetri’s pivotal goal in the added time, the coach recollected: “It was a 5-man move and Chhetri was clinical to finish off the job. In Europe, the goals against Myanmar and the Kyrgyz Republic could have been talking points. On and off the pitch, we are a great team.”

The product of the AIFF Youth Development program Germanpreet Singh thanked the senior players for being a “great support to improve him as a player.”

“We always push ourselves to deliver on the pitch. The senior players have been a great support to every one of us to improve as a player,” Germanpreet said.

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