India football coach Constantine focussing on fitness for Laos match
India football coach Constantine focussing on fitness for Laos match

New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) Ahead of the qualifier match against Laos for the 2019 Asian Cup, India head coach Stephen Constantine on Tuesday said he is primarily focussing on testing the level of fitness of the footballers in the ongoing preparatory camp.

A squad of 23 will fly from Delhi to Laos on May 30. India play Laos on June 2 while the return leg is scheduled to be played in Guwahati on June 7.

“The boys are working hard. We have a few more days to prepare so we can afford not to rush. The lack of conditioning always needs to be addressed,” Constantine said in a release here.

“As we now have more days we can at least do more work on physical part. That’s primarily the focus, testing the levels of fitness.”

The Englishman pointed out that lack of sports scientists in clubs in the country has made the job for coaches harder.

“Not all Indian clubs have an access to a sports scientist. That makes the job of the club coaches all the more harder and it also makes it difficult for the players. Most of the injuries which a player sustains happen some 7-10 days after they have left the national camp,” he said.

“It’s because they train at a much higher level with the national team but when they go back to their clubs the level drops. That’s when they are susceptible to injuries,” he added.

“It will be hugely beneficial for Indian football if the clubs have access to sports science or at least a high level fitness coach.

“Bengaluru FC (I-League winners) are a good example. The boys are regular at the gym doing the extra bit, there is a sports science coach and physically, they are in a better condition (than most others) when they report to the camp. Things which we do at the national camp do not surprise them.”

When asked about the new faces in the camp, the head coach said, “We didn’t have much choice. Of the 26 whom we selected, 11 are busy with their respective clubs for the AFC Cup commitments.

“Hence, we decided to bring in some players whom we have been tracking to see how they train and respond and understand their attitude.

“The players from Mohun Bagan would report to the camp on the morning of the May 25 while Bengaluru FC players would be assembling on May 28,” Constantine added.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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